June 6, 2020
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is making $1.5 million in grant funding available for up to six states to help spur the development of programs that that alert motorists to vehicle safety recalls and provide information to help repair them.

[Above photo by the Maryland State Police.]

NHTSA said states participating in this program will notify owners and lessees of vehicles with open recalls along with registration notices, provide a brief description of the defect, the nature of the recall, and information on getting it fixed immediately at the manufacturer’s authorized dealer.

The agency added that participating states will also implement the notification program for a two-year period and evaluate the results.

James Owens

James Owens, NHTSA’s acting administrator, stressed in a statement that this program is intended to supplement and does not in any way replace the vehicle manufacturer’s legal obligation to alert consumers of recalls on their vehicles and to provide a remedy free of charge.

“Recalls are serious, and recall repairs are completely free,” he said in a statement. “I encourage states to apply for funding and join us in spreading this lifesaving message.”

NHTSA pointed to the success of a state recall initiative launched by Maryland in 2017. Three years ago, NHTSA entered a $222,300 cooperative agreement with Maryland, launching a two-year pilot program to provide open recall information to consumers when they register a new vehicle or renew a registration.

From April 2018 to January 2020, Maryland had 4.6 million vehicle registrations renewed, with 456,000 of those vehicles identified as having 943,000 open recalls. Of those, 371,000 individual recalls were repaired, according to the state’s Motor Vehicle Administration, and more than 32 percent of the recalls remedied were air bags.

As only about 60 percent on average of recalled vehicles are repaired, improving recall remedy rates is now NHTSA priority – especially in the wake of the Takata air bag recall, the largest and most complex recall in automotive history.

editor@aashto.org

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