RECALL Act Would Require Consumers Fix Vehicle Safety Issues Before Registration Renewal

During 2014’s recallapoalooza federal regulators revealed that the average completion rate for a vehicle recall was just 75%. While some consumers might not be aware their car has a safety issue, others simply put off the needed repairs. A new bill introduced in the Senate Monday aims to make sure potentially dangerous vehicles aren’t on the road, by requiring fixes be completed before registration renewals are granted. 

The Detroit Free Press reports that Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey and Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal introduced the Repairing Every Car to Avoid Lost Lives (RECALL) Act that would establish a required procedure to quickly complete safety recalls.

“Unrepaired safety defects endanger everyone on America’s roadways,” Senator Blumenthal said in a statement. “Important recall notices can get bogged down with legalese, and busy consumers can miss a lifesaving update. This legislation provides a common-sense avenue to ensure every driver is reminded and encouraged to make the necessary repairs and keep unsafe cars off the roads.”

Under the RECALL Act [PDF], state DMVs and state motor vehicle registration agencies would be required to notify vehicle owners of open safety recalls to ensure they get the issue fixed.

Notification of outstanding recalls would be sent at the same time the DMV sends out a registration renewal reminder. For consumers who just purchased a vehicle, the DMV would send the notification at the same time as the proof of registration documentation.

After receiving the communication, vehicle owners would have to complete the recall remedy before they could renew their registration.

However, consumers would be given a few exceptions to the Act. Examples of exceptions include instances in which the owner wasn’t notified of the recall when the registration renewal reminder came out; the manufacturer lacks the parts or labor to complete the recall; or the vehicle owner demonstrates that he/she had no reasonable opportunity to fulfill the recall. In such cases, the state can grant a temporary registration of up to 60 days.

If states fail to follow the RECALL Act, the Secretary of Transportation is directed to withhold a portion of owed highway safety funds.

“This legislation represents the three R’s of automotive safety: recall, repair, register,” said Senator Markey said in a statement. “We need to inform all vehicle owners of open safety recalls and ensure repairs get made quickly so our roads are kept safe. The RECALL Act will help prevent any more avoidable deaths from unrepaired recalls.”

The Free Press reports that the bill has already received support from several consumer groups including the Center for Auto Safety, the Consumer Federation of America, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and Honda North America, Inc., and even some automakers.

A representative for Honda said that requiring fixes during vehicle registration makes sense.

“We believe the process of vehicle registration is a logical point to require an additional check for any open safety recalls in order to ensure that repairs are completed,” the rep says.

Bill would require recall repairs to be fixed [The Detroit Free Press]