WASHINGTON – High-profile recalls with low completion rates, including the massive one for defective Takata airbags, have prompted lawmakers to propose sweeping reforms designed to help consumers.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday issued a draft proposal that includes requiring automakers to send e-mail notifications to owners of recalled cars in addition to sending them formal notices by first-class mail.
The proposal also encourages recall notifications “by other electronic means, including through social media and targeted online campaigns.”
Lawmakers are also calling for a program in which states notify drivers of open recalls when they renew their vehicle registrations.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx last April said at least 20 percent of vehicles that are recalled go unrepaired.
“This is a safety risk to the drivers of those vehicles and all the people they share the road with, too,” Foxx said in a statement.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said 2014 was a record year for recalls, with the highest number of vehicle recalls in more than three decades.
There were 803 vehicle recalls involving 63.9 million vehicles, including two of the largest vehicle recalls in history.
The sweeping safety reform proposal also addresses vehicle cybersecurity.
It calls for the establishment of a cybersecurity council made up of NHTSA and automakers to develop cybersecurity best practices.
It would also make it illegal to hack vehicle data or systems, with civil penalties of up to $100,000 for violations.
“There is an urgency for improvement with both automakers and NHTSA as the next generation of vehicles and innovation are set to emerge,” said Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Subcommittee Chairman Michael Burgess (R-TX) in a statement. “It is an ever-changing landscape and we look forward to working with our colleagues and stakeholders as this important process continues.”
Edmunds says: These are all good ideas that will help the consumer once they are implemented. Until then, vehicle owners can check Edmunds’ recall page for updated recall information or simply stay in touch with their local dealer who will have the latest information.