DOT, Maryland Partner to Boost Uptake of Recall Messages

Only about 70 percent of recalled vehicles are in fact repaired, and raising recall remedy rates is a priority for NHTSA, especially because the Takata airbag recall has affected as many as one-third of vehicles nationwide.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has awarded a $222,300 grant to the Maryland DOT Motor Vehicle Administration to help reach more consumers with messages to repair open recalls on their vehicles. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced it Oct. 27.

Only about 70 percent of recalled vehicles are in fact repaired, and raising recall remedy rates is a priority for NHTSA, especially because the Takata airbag recall has affected as many as one-third of vehicles nationwide. Calling it the largest and most complex recall in automotive history, with NHTSA engaged in an aggressive campaign to educate consumers about the importance of repairing recalled vehicles, DOT noted the FAST Act provided grants for as many as six states that agreed to notify consumers of open recalls on their vehicles at the time of registration. Maryland was the only state to apply for the grant and will begin the process of developing a pilot program.

"The Department of Transportation is working with Maryland's Governor Larry Hogan and his administration to focus on improving safety on our nation's roads, and a key component of that is addressing recall remedy rates. As many as three out of every 10 recalled vehicles have not been repaired," Chao said. "Recalls are serious. Recall repairs are completely free to the consumer. This first-in-the-nation grant will serve as an example to the rest of the country as we continue to work across government to reach consumers in new and creative ways with potentially life-saving information about their vehicles."

The award to Maryland is a part of a two-year pilot grant program to test the feasibility of providing open recall information to consumers when they complete vehicle registration, but the pilot program doesn't replace the vehicle manufacturer's obligation to alert consumers about recalls on their vehicles and to provide a remedy free of charge.

"Maryland is proud to pilot this important initiative to protect our citizens and make our roadways safer," Hogan said. "The safety and security of Marylanders is our top priority, and this program will allow us to alert vehicle owners to potentially dangerous safety recalls."

As part of its program, Maryland has agreed to determine open recalls on all motor vehicles registered by the state and to notify owners and lessees of the open recalls at the time of registration at no charge. Maryland also will give owners and lessees a brief description of the defect, the nature of the recall, and inform the owner or lessee that the remedy should be obtained immediately at the manufacturer's authorized dealer.

At the end of the two-year performance period, the state will provide an evaluation of the notification program.

Consumers can check their VIN for open recalls by contacting their vehicle manufacturer or by using the VIN look-up tool at www.nhtsa.gov.

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