NHTSA-babyleg-160x600Safe cars play a big role in passenger safety. You can be a great driver who always wears a seatbelt, but if your brakes fail all bets are off. Yet each year, a quarter of recalled vehicles go unfixed. Last year there were 900 recalls affecting 51 million vehicles. If 25% of them went unrepaired, that means there are almost 13 million vehicles on the road with potential safety issues—and that’s just from last year.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants to change that. They recently launched a new campaign called “Safe Cars Save Lives,” aimed at getting people to check their Vehicle Identification Numbers twice a year for recalls, and to get their vehicles repaired as soon as possible. Dealerships will perform recall fixes for free.

NHTSATo make this easy to remember, NHTSA recommends checking for recalls when you change your clocks for daylight savings in March and November (which is also when you should change the batteries in smoke detectors).

You can check for recalls at this page using a VIN or by looking up makes and models.

NHTSA also held a workshop with industry leaders and researchers to examine why so many recalls go unfixed. Based on discussion from that workshop, NHTSA is asking for input about how recalls can better be communicated to consumers, and how consumers can be encouraged to get their cars fixed. Possible solutions include using electronic communication (texts or emails) rather than or in addition to the traditional mailed notices. You can read about the initiative here and can submit your comments.