Under a new initiative, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration has reminded 40,000 motorists that their vehicles have been recalled for safety defects and should be taken to a franchised dealership to be fixed at no charge.
The agency announced the pilot program's launch at the beginning of April after receiving a $222,000 grant from NHTSA last fall. Vehicles with open recalls potentially pose a safety hazard to occupants and others sharing the road.
The program is designed to leverage the MVA's ability to reach owners whom automakers and dealerships have lost touch with because of obsolete contact information, especially in cases of older or previously owned vehicles that are serviced at independent garages or involve an address change.
The MVA has distributed 215,000 renewal notices since the program went into effect, and about 40,000 of those contained recall reminders, spokesperson Porlan Cunningham said.
The auto industry, safety advocates and regulators have struggled to identify alternative ways to notify individuals of recalls beyond the traditional practices of using sales records to mail owners a notice, informing the customer when in for other service at a dealership or hoping people check the vehicle identification number look-up tool on NHTSA's website and sign up for the safety agency's email alerts.
Maryland was the only state to apply for the NHTSA grant and is using recall information supplied by Cox Automotive to notify owners and lessees. Regulators say they hope to learn how to manage data-sharing, the best method of communication with owners and whether the notices led to recalls being completed.
Automakers have rolled out a tool to help dealerships, state agencies, salvage yards and other parties conduct time-saving bulk searches of VINs to identify vehicles in their possession with recalls.