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Advancing Safety by Addressing Defects and Raising Awareness

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NHTSA has significantly improved, and continues to enhance, its risk-based processes for identifying vehicles and vehicle equipment with safety-related defects, and issuing recalls to protect Americans on the road.

In the last decade, NHTSA oversaw 7,878 recalls affecting more than 390 million vehicles and items of vehicle equipment. With work that affects so many Americans, continuous review and improvement of NHTSA’s processes is essential. To advance safety for the driving public, NHTSA has taken action in three critical areas: expanded outreach to the public; increased oversight and engagement with manufacturers; and enhanced investigative processes.

Expanded Consumer Outreach on Recalls

  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) Lookup tool on NHTSA’s website to help consumers check for open recalls
  • Nation’s first DMV Pilot Program with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration to inform consumers of open recalls at the time of vehicle registration, which could serve as a model for other States
  • Safe Cars Save Lives recall awareness campaign, resulting in more than 6.3 million clicks to and almost 2.7 million VIN Lookup tool uses
  • Takata microsite on that includes the VIN Lookup tool, tips for getting the recall addressed, and regularly updated data tracking recall completion rates
  • Media events in Florida and California earlier this year regarding Takata air bags; audio news releases and radio media tours focused on air bag recalls and the Takata ‘Do Not Drive’ vehicles, reaching an estimated 9.3 million viewers and 20.5 million radio listeners
  • Geo-targeted Takata air bag recalls online campaign, garnering almost 500,000 clicks and close to 345,000 uses of the VIN Lookup tool; an online video resulted in 5.8 million impressions with more than 2.9 million video view completions

Increased Recall Oversight and Engagement With Manufacturers

  • Consent orders with specific recall-related performance objectives, including the development of recall best practices, as well as enhanced industry and consumer outreach
  • Government and industry recall summits to share best practices and lessons learned for improving recall completion rates
  • Online portal for manufacturer recall submissions to improve organization and efficiency
  • Regular engagements with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), including weekly calls with large manufacturers, and quarterly meetings with most major manufacturers
  • Innovative and proactive action, such as promotion of an industry-led VIN Lookup tool for fleet recall searches

Enhanced Investigative Processes

  • NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) underwent restructuring. This integrated their screening and investigative functions, significantly expanded workload capacity, and established four new Vehicle Defects Divisions to follow a single investigation from start to finish.
  • Standardized, risk-based processes for the assessment of vehicle safety complaints and other potential defect information to improve timely and appropriate investigative actions
  • ODI’s data repository and analysis system (ARTEMIS) modernization to a cloud-based, modular system to improve workflow and investigator efficiency
  • Deployment of advanced technology including the IBM Corporate Information Factory suite that allows for advanced text searches, case management, reporting and dashboards, predictive analytics, and operational data store

NHTSA’s mission is saving lives, preventing injuries, and reducing the costs of roadway crashes. To that end, the agency has embraced continuous improvement to address the enormous challenge presented by safety-related defects. A key element of any risk-based system is openness to feedback, and continuous improvement. NHTSA will continue to pursue new ways to better identify and correct vehicle defects in order to protect Americans on the road.