Vehicle safety watchdog 'toothless' say campaigners

The Vehicle Operator and Services Agency (VOSA), the vehicle safety watchdog, has been heavily criticised for its seeming unwillingness to enforce its powers.

According to figures made public by Which? Car magazine VOSA issued zero recalls in 2010 whilst its US equivalent the National Highway Traffic System Administration (NHTSA) instigated 118 recalls.
Editor of Which? Car Richard Headland had strong criticisms to make against the organisation: "VOSA is a toothless organisation that appears to pander to the car industry," he said.

"Which? Car believes it is providing a sub-standard level of protection to British motorists. In contrast, America's NHTSA leads the way as an example of how a safety recall organisation should operate," he added.

The Which? investigation found that cars sold in both the US and UK were recalled in the United States but not over here.

In 2005 Volvo US recalled its V70 models made between 1999 and 2002 because of a throttle fault, whilst Volvo UK did not.

The last generation Vauxhall Meriva and first BMW Mini both suffered from problems with their power steering but were not subject to recalls because both manufacturers insisted there was no safety issue involved.

Director of policy and research at IAM, Neil Greig, said: "VOSA must be more proactive in telling drivers about recalls and technical problems arising around the world. It should be also be more involved in investigating complaints from drivers and holding car makers to account."

VOSA operations director Alex Fiddes defended the organisation: "Our priority is protecting road users in Britain and our vehicle recall system operates swiftly and effectively, contributing to Britain having some of the safest roads in the world."

Nevertheless Which? Car has now started a campaign calling for VOSA to make better use of the powers available to it.
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