Hurricane Katrina Forest Recovery

As we work together to tackle the historic challenge that Hurricane Katrina has presented to the forestry communities of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, we hope that this blog will be a valuable resource and tool.

Friday, December 8

'Hurricane Cars' Bill Introduced in Congress

Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) have introduced legislation S 3707 and HR 6093, which would help combat the roughly five million vehicles "totaled" last year due to severe damage, flooding or theft, including 580,000 from the Gulf hurricanes alone.

Thousands of these vehicles are cleaned up and resold with no history of the cars' troubled pasts to unsuspecting customers, a problem called "title washing." News reports around the country have documented that Katrina cars are turning up as far away as Washington state.

This represents a significant economic risk to buyers of used vehicles who may overpay for a wreck. And, it is a significant and unnecessary public safety risk to the entire motoring public because more unsafe cars are on the road.

According to Lott and Stearns, this problem persists because state motor vehicle titling laws are confusing and incomplete, and no central database exists to "red flag" all the problem vehicles. Buyers do not have enough timely access to title data at departments of motor vehicles or total loss data at insurance companies.


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