WASHINGTON — Lives and property are at greater risk because auto recalls and investigations of safety defects have been put on hold during the partial government shutdown, safety advocates said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has furloughed employees who investigate safety complaints and order carmakers to recall vehicles. The public can still file safety complaints through the agency's website, but no one has been investigating them since the shutdown began over a week ago. Investigations previously underway have been halted.

Manufacturers can still voluntarily recall vehicles, but major recalls are typically negotiated between the government and automakers.