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NHTSA wants Americans checking for vehicle recalls often

It is ironic that in an age when cars are being more safely designed than ever, we are also experiencing unprecedented dangers related to vehicle defects. In 2015, approximately 51 million vehicles in the United States were included in nearly 900 recalls. Although last year's recall rate was higher than ever before, the recall trend is becoming disturbingly common.

Another irony in the recall trend has to do with communication. At a time when Americans have up-to-the-minute information available whenever they want to search for it, a surprising number of vehicle owners are not aware that their cars have been included in a safety recall. This could be due to fatigue related to the non-stop string of recalls, however.

In an effort to boost consumer participation in the recall process, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently launched a campaign called "Safe Cars Save Lives." The agency is asking all car owners to commit to checking for open recalls at least twice per year.

This has actually become rather easy to do if you have one important piece of information. Websites run by the NHTSA and other agencies allow consumers to enter their vehicle identification number (VIN) into a search tool, which then checks it against VINs provided by auto manufacturers in recall notices. The whole process only takes a minute.

Of course, remembering to do the search is the biggest obstacle. The NHTSA recommends tying it to either end of daylight savings time, which occurs in March and November.

It is more than a little frustrating to think that we have to be responsible for figuring out whether or not our vehicles have been recalled. It is a sad sign that recalls are now the rule and no longer the exception. Still, for the sake of yourself and your family, please make a commitment to check for recalls at least twice a year.

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