A new report from the Government Accountability Office revealed that, between fiscal years 2008 and 2012, federal agencies got into about 37,000 accidents, and 62% of those–nearly 23,000–were their fault.
What’s most surprising though is the fact that 21,385, an overwhelming majority, of these accidents were collisions with another vehicle. The second most likely kind of accident that federal drivers were responsible for were collisions with stationary objects or to run off the road.
According to legal encyclopedia Nolo, the only option for people who want to pursue a claim against a federal employee is through Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). You see, the legal concept of “sovereign immunity,” which is a carryover from the days of monarchies, states that citizens aren’t allowed to sue the government, unless they say you can. The FTCA allows citizens to bring certain kinds of lawsuits to court against federal employees. The downside is that if your claim ins’t allowed under the FTCA, it’s likely that it’ll get barred by sovereign immunity.
There is a silver lining to this situation though, or at least for vehicle repair companies. During the four year period, the government spent $53.56 million on auto repairs. The average claim was about $2,300. For any claim that cost less than $2,500, the agency would fit the bill, but if it were higher, the Judgment Fund would pay it.
Although the amount of accidents was jaw dropping, there were relatively few fatalities and injuries. Only 1,466 people were hurt, and 49 died.
All this being said, it’s important to consider the fact that these numbers only account for 29% of the federal fleet–the amount of vehicles that the General Services Administration leases out. Since this data only reflects a small portion of federal drivers, it’s not entirely fair to say that the government is at fault for the majority of its accidents, but it is fair to harbor some suspicions in light of this report.