GAO Releases Study on Auto Safety Defect Recall Process
NHTSA's Role and How It Can Improve
The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently produced a report on the auto safety defect recall process, by reviewing laws, documents and conducting interviews, in response to questions raised by the U.S. Congress.
In 2010, auto manufacturers recalled more vehicles than any other year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the federal oversight authority for vehicle recalls.
However, many recalled vehicles are never repaired, posing a risk to vehicle operators, other drivers and pedestrians. After the recent recalls of some Toyota vehicles, Congress raised questions about the auto safety defect recall process, including the sufficiency of NHTSA's oversight authorities and whether vehicle owners are motivated to comply with recalls.
In response to these Capitol Hill questions, the GAO interviewed NHTSA and stakeholders about the 1) extent of NHTSA's role in the recall process and how its authorities compare to selected federal and foreign agencies that oversee recalls; 2) benefits and challenges of the recall process for NHTSA and manufacturers; and 3) options for improving the recall process. The GAO also conducted focus groups with vehicle owners to better understand their perspectives.
The GAO found that NHTSA monitors manufacturers' recall campaigns and completion rates (the number of defective vehicles that are repaired) and provides information and guidance to the public. NHTSA is responsible for reviewing the planning and implementation of recall campaigns to ensure compliance with federal legal requirements.
The GAO recommended that NHTSA 1) modify requirements for notification letters; 2) enhance and publicize its website; 3) better use manufacturers' data; and 4) seek legislative authority to notify potential used car buyers of recalls. NHTSA agreed to consider the GAO's recommendations.
To view the full text of the GAO report, visit ASA's legislative website at www.TakingTheHill.com.
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