Shortly after taking over as head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Mark Rosekind warned carmakers, consumers, and anyone who would listen that 2015 could see more recalls than the recallapalooza that was 2014. Fast forward 12 months, and his prediction has become a reality.
That means for the second year in a row automakers have recalled a record number of vehicles for a slew of safety issues.
In all, the Wall Street Journal reports, 51.26 million vehicles were recalled in 2015, just slightly more than the 50.99 million officially recalled in 2014.
The previous year’s recall was revised down from 64 million vehicles because of changes in counting vehicles affected by the ongoing Takata airbag debacle.
“Clearly, massive recalls are still a prominent part of the safety landscape,” Rosekind said at the Washington Auto Show Thursday. “Part of what’s happened is a vigilance in looking for defects and getting them addressed.”
Recalls in 2015 were punctuated by the millions of vehicles affected by the Takata airbag defect.
In May, NHTSA and Takata declared that an estimated 34 million vehicles contained defective safety devices that have been found to shoot shrapnel at drivers and passengers upon deployment.
The figure was eventually revised down to about 19 million vehicles, but regulators continue to warn that others could join the recall list.
Rosekind also linked the uptick in recalls to regulators’ increased scrutiny of vehicle manufactures, a move he says has caused carmakers to be more proactive in identifying safety issues.
The WSJ proposed that the carmakers are also likely trying to avoid hefty penalties, like those already levied against like Fiat Chrysler.
In December, Fiat Chrysler was ordered to pay a $70 million fine for allegedly failing to disclose deaths and injuries to regulators. In July, the company received a record $105 million fine for its failure to properly address 23 recalls.
Also on Thursday, Rosekind announced that regulators would launch a yearlong online-advertising campaign focused on encouraging consumers to fix their recalled vehicles.
Under the campaign, consumers are urged to use the government’s vehicle-identification-number database to spot open recalls and to prod them to quickly get repairs.
U.S. Auto Recalls Last Year Set Record at 51 Million [The Wall Street Journal]