The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recalls millions of vehicles and vehicle parts every year due to defects. Through the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, the NHTSA has recalled more than 390 million vehicles since 1966. To improve the efficiency and success of recall notices, the NHTSA has proposed a rule to include electronic delivery of these notices as a standard for all recalls.
Why do we need to change the way we get recalls?
Currently, vehicle manufacturers provide recall notices to vehicle owners, purchasers, and dealers through the U.S. Postal Service's first-class mail. Unfortunately, these recall notices often get lost in the mail or end up at old addresses after owners move. This method makes the recall process much slower and can allow for additional incidents to occur with the defective vehicles or parts.
What is the NHTSA's proposed rule change?
The NHTSA has published a proposed rule in the Federal Register that would require vehicle manufacturers to send recall notices by electronic means in addition to the mailed notices. The language of the rule purposefully designates "electronic means" to give manufacturers a variety of delivery options.
There are many potential electronic delivery methods:
- Mobile apps
- Onboard information/entertainment consoles
- Mass media (television, radio, etc.)
- Targeted internet ads
The rule is currently under consideration and is open for public comment until October 31, 2016. After the comment period ends, the NHTSA will consider the responses and publish a final rule.
How will electronic recall notices help consumers?
When a consumer purchases a vehicle, the dealership records her current address as the vehicle's contact address. Unless the owner actively changes her address on file with the dealership, if she moves, she is unlikely to receive mailed recall notices.
Furthermore, the owners of vehicles purchased from a private owner are unlikely to ever receive these important notices. The only way to find out about recalls would be to search the vehicle’s VIN number on the NHTSA’s recalls page.
With the two-fold recall notice approach, vehicle owners might be able to give an email address as part of their contact information and improve the chance that they will receive notices. Most people keep email addresses longer than residences, so the ability to receive notices will be more secure.
Additionally, with the variety of electronic methods, vehicle manufacturers would be able to provide several electronic options to allow their consumers to choose the method they like best.
Defective vehicles have the potential to cause serious accidents if owners do not take them in for repair or replacement after the manufacturer issues a recall.
Goldstein & Bashner provides the resources and guidance a vehicle owner needs to identify how a defective vehicle caused an accident as well as how to recover compensation for it.