It’s time to update the recall system

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It’s time to update the recall system

This year has been the “year of recalls” with nearly 56 million and counting vehicles recalled for product defects. Many of these recalls deal with defects that could cause severe injuries or even death. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration throws the number of vehicles around like it is something of which to be proud. But the recall system is severely outdated. Not only is it outdated, but usually too late. Several families have received a recall notice just a month after losing a loved one. Others are putting dangerous tires on their vehicles  because they have no knowledge of how dangerous the tire actually is.

The Safety Research Strategies Inc. has taken a closer look at the recall system.  Safety expert Sean Kane, shares an excellent point on his blog, “Today, people who want to sell you things dog you keystroke by keystroke on the Internet, cars can talk to you and governments are toppled with the help of Twitter. Yet, our danger alert system relies on the mail (with apologies to the U.S. postal Service.” After forty years, there have been no major updates to the recall system, and the times have changed significantly. Even though consumers can look up their vehicles online by searching the VIN number, the only way the manufacturers send notices or safety related letters is via first class mail. Tire manufactures have even more obstacles to face, since once the tire leaves the manufacturer they have no way to identify who owns the tire or track the individual tires down.

NHTSA tends to throw around the number of recalled vehicles much more than it shares the actual recall completion rates. It has also done little to examine trends or work to improve them. Sean Kane suggests a safety recall act that would institute several improvements to the recall system for vehicles, tires and equipment. It would require NHTSA to analyze recall completion rates, help set benchmarks for completion rates, require recall or audit queries for recalls that fall below the benchmark, and set penalties for failure to achieve minimum benchmark. For tires, the safety recall act would require tires to have non-coded date of manufacture on both sides of the sidewall, require manufacturers to automate identification of recalled tires to assist tire retailers, tire service center, consumers and others, and have NHTSA add a Tire Identification Number system to its public safety database. For more thoughts from Sean Kane, you can visit his blog here.

The manufacturer’s responsibility to notify NHTSA, dealers and consumers about a recall are outlined in CFR 49 Parts 573 and 577. To read more about these current regulations, you can visit Sean Kane’s blog here.

Source: Safety Research and Strategies