Beginning last month, Maryland vehicle owners and lessees started receiving specific information about open recalls on their vehicles as part of mailed and emailed annual vehicle registration renewal notices. While having the free repair that is the subject of a recall completed is not required to renew the vehicle registration, it is a smart safety step for a vehicle owner to take.
Federal grant funding
This new practice is a federally funded pilot program and Maryland is the first, and so far only, state to implement it. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA gave the state of Maryland a grant of $222,300 to set up and administer the program.
The Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration or MDOT MVA will administer the program and the state has entered into an arrangement with Cox Automotive, Inc., to provide the vehicle recall data.
Goal of safer roads
The purpose of this program is obviously to make our roads safer by increasing the chances that vehicle owners will have vehicle parts and equipment with known defects repaired or replaced, a free manufacturer service. Notably, MDOT MVA reported in October that only about 70 percent of recall repairs on average are actually completed.
Since manufacturers lose track of owners when they move or sell vehicles, current car owners may not actually receive manufacturer recall notices. Since vehicle registration must be renewed annually, this pilot program is a smart way to get the word out about sometimes seriously needed repairs.
According to an MDOT MVA press release, car owners and lessees can check for recalls using the vehicle identification number or VIN through an authorized dealership or using a tool on www.nhtsa.gov.
Impact of failure to have recall repairs made
It is hard to think of a valid excuse for failing to take advantage of a free recall for a known problem, especially a serious one. In fact, if not having the recall-related repair done leaves a vehicle in a dangerous condition and that condition causes a car accident, the failure to respond to the recall notice could be important evidence of potential negligence in a lawsuit for injury or death resulting from the crash.