The National Safety Council, three manufacturers, and other automotive stakeholders have issued a renewed call for drivers to check their vehicles for open recalls via the council's Check to Protect initiative.
The coalition of automakers and other industry stakeholders includes Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Toyota, Nissan, Carfax, and the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Now in its second year, the Check to Protect program is a free service offered to all motorists. Check to Protect has allowed 3.5 million people to enter their vehicle identification number and reveal open recalls that may pose a safety risk.
The initiative was founded as a partnership between the council and FCA, and was designed to educate drivers about the importance of checking for open safety recalls and getting vehicles repaired for free at an authorized dealership. Today, the campaign also includes several additional automakers as well as over 24 other organizations that are helping to spread the word.
Automakers send letters to original vehicle owners within 60 days of a recall notifying them about the defect and how to get it fixed, but the message does not always find the right recipient, notes the council. That's due to the fact that a vehicle owner may have moved, or the vehicle may have been sold.
As a result, the recall repair compliance rate is just 44% for vehicles five to 10 years old. While some owners are not aware of their vehicle's recall status, others know they have a recall but perceive the issue as unimportant.
Approximately 1 in 5 vehicles on the road today (or 53 million) have open safety recalls, according to the council. Of these, 42 million have unrepaired, recalled airbags, making these life-saving devices potentially life-threatening. If recalled airbags deploy in a crash, they can put drivers and passengers at risk of injury or death from sharp metal fragments spraying into the vehicle.