WASHINGTON -- For the second year in a row, automakers recalled a record number of vehicles in the U.S., the nation’s top auto safety official said today.
More than 51 million vehicles were recalled in 2015 in nearly 900 campaigns, Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said during a speech at the Washington auto show.
Both the number of campaigns and the number of recalled vehicles last year were new records, Rosekind said. NHTSA previously had said that recall record was set in 2014 at about 64 million vehicles. But today, Rosekind said that after “adjustments,” the 2014 total was “just below” 51 million vehicles.
Rosekind said the continued record-setting pace demands more action from automakers and NHTSA to spot defects more quickly and repair more recalled cars. Improving the recall system and maximizing repairs has been a hallmark of Rosekind’s 13 months as NHTSA chief. Some traction was gained on that front last week, when U.S. officials and 18 auto companies agreed to a broad safety cooperation effort. Improved recall completion rates was one of four key principles in that landmark safety deal.
“Massive recalls are still a prominent feature of the safety landscape,” Rosekind said, according to a copy of his prepared remarks. “We also hope the agreement with major automakers announced last week will help prevent problems and identify them sooner when they do occur. But identifying defects is not enough; we have to make sure they get fixed.”
In his speech, Rosekind said NHTSA will launch a new digital advertising campaign, dubbed “Safe Cars Save Lives,” to raise awareness about recalls. He also implored auto dealers not to sell used vehicles without first completing any recall repairs.
A NHTSA spokesman said the adjusted 2014 recall totals largely reflected the Takata recalls, whose official numbers were reduced last year after they were initially estimated to cover millions of vehicles more than the roughly 20 million vehicles currently affected. The spokesman also said downward adjustments often happen when manufacturers refine data given to reflect the number of vehicles in a campaign that are still on the road, the spokesman said.