It’s a sad fact that current recall repair compliance rates are so abysmal. Most dealers know it., the Feds know it, state governments know it, and the manufacturers know it. Resolving this recall crisis starts with a notification. But, people simply don’t read recall notices, they discard them as junk mail.
For those that do read them, a second problem presents itself: getting to the dealership to have the recall repaired. Time is short, and consumers are busy. While vehicle owners may intend to get the recall fixed, the task slowly works its way onto the back burner and, inevitably, out of their minds, leaving the recall unrepaired. For the remaining few that are concerned and proactive, they often find themselves stuck in a quagmire of lack of parts and long waits, ending up frustrated.
One state, however, has implemented a recall repair notification process that may just help increase awareness of recall repairs among its vehicle owners: Maryland. A recent article on WTOP outlines a plan supported by a $220,000 grant that includes outstanding recall repairs on resident’s vehicle registration renewals. The edge that the State of Maryland has is obvious: it knows every registered vehicle and owner’s contact information. Maryland’s vehicle owners are unlikely to trash their registration renewal and, therefore, will also become aware of the recalls associated with those vehicles. Vehicles are an essential part of everyday life for most consumers. We need our vehicle to get to work, shuttle kids to school and soccer practice, etc.
Think about your last registration renewal. Did it say you were required to get your vehicle inspected? Yeah, everyone hates that. Why? Because it means you must find the time to go to an inspection station and complete that task. But you do it, right? And you do it because you know that if you don’t, you can’t renew your registration, which could result in a ticket. And nobody wants that.
While Maryland is these taking these steps to its notify citizens about vehicle recalls – which should prove to be successful since almost everyone reads their registration renewal invoices, follows the instructions and pays them – it stops one step short of alleviating and reducing the number of unsafe cars on the roads in Maryland.
The whole point of a vehicle inspection is to ensure the vehicle is safe to operate. Inspections look at several areas -- even small things such as if the license plate light or blinkers are operational. If Maryland (or any other state) wants to truly make an impact on recall repair compliance rates, they should consider making recall repairs mandatory during a vehicle inspection. Of course, there are some obstacles to overcome, such as notification period versus registration payment due dates, but that can be overcome by simply notifying citizens earlier and giving them ample time to have the repairs completed.
The only entities that currently have both the data (vehicle and owner information) and the ability (through legislation on the State level) to truly make an impact on recall repair compliance rates is individual states themselves. There are already plenty of conversations happening about this very subject as I write this. But, to date, no states have yet taken this to the next level and made it mandatory. And, based on the compliance rates, it’s about time they did.