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NHTSA And Maryland Working To Increase Auto Recall Repair Rates

States that notify consumers of auto recalls now have access to a new federal grant program, which seeks to improve consumer compliance with recall notices. 

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced late last month that it has awarded the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration its first “FAST Act” grant, which will assist in administrative costs associated with notifying vehicle purchasers at the time of registration about any open or existing recalls on the vehicle.

According to an NHTSA press release issued on October 27, only about 70 percent of vehicles subject to a recall are ever repaired, despite agency and manufacturer efforts to notify and encourage owners to comply with the recalls and receive repairs by licensed dealers in their area.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao stated that one of the most effective ways to improve recall repair rates is to educate and notify owners.

“Recalls are serious. Recall repairs are completely free to the consumer,” Chao said in the press release. “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.”

Open recalls pose a serious highway safety risk and cause thousands of injuries and fatalities annually according to the NHTSA. As part of the new initiative, the NHTSA and Maryland officials have teamed up to better educate and encourage those purchasing vehicles of these potential safety risks.

The FAST Act was designed to provide grants for up to six states that agree to notify consumers of open recalls on their vehicles at the time of registration and to provide them with information on how to have the defects repaired free of charge by the automobile manufacturer.

The $222,300 grant awarded to Maryland is designed to help the state implement the necessary actions needed at motor vehicle administrative offices to notify those registering newly purchased used vehicles of any open safety recalls on the particular vehicle.

The NHTSA’s primary goal is to improve highway safety, and if consumers are purchasing a used vehicle, they may not be aware of any open safety recalls.

Maryland will test the feasibility of providing open recall information to consumers at the time of vehicle registration.

“Maryland is proud to pilot this important initiative to protect our citizens and make our roadways safer,” Maryland Governor Larry Hogan stated in the press release. “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 the agreement, Maryland will determine whether there are open recalls on all the motor vehicles registered by the state, and will notify owners and lessees of the open recalls at the time of registration, free of charge. The free notifications will also provide owners and lessees with 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 period, the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration and the NHTSA will evaluate the progress of the program and determine if any changes are necessary to make the program more effective.

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