The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched a new public awareness campaign called Safe Cars Save Lives that urges consumers to check for open recalls at least twice a year and to get their vehicles fixed as soon as parts are available. Last year, there were close to 900 recalls affecting 51 million vehicles nationwide. Every year, on average, 25 percent of recalled vehicles are left unrepaired.

"Do not wait"

“Recalls are a serious safety issue that should be promptly addressed,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “An informed consumer is one of our strongest allies in ensuring recalled vehicles are repaired. Do not wait to act if your car is under recall and the parts are available.”

The Safe Cars Save Lives campaign features online banner ads illustrating that safety should never take a back seat and that checking for a recall could help save a life. Consumers are urged to get into the habit of checking their vehicle identification number (VIN) twice a year at a minimum using NHTSA’s free VIN look up tool. To remember to check, NHTSA suggests timing it with day light savings – every November when setting clocks back and every March when setting clocks forward. If there is an open recall, the safety agency advises owners to contact their local dealer to schedule an appointment and bring their vehicle in for repair as soon as possible.

The recall awareness campaign also includes a suite of safety videos to help inform consumers on how to check their VINs, how recalls and investigations work, and information on what every car owner should know.

Millions a year

“Safe Cars Save Lives is a critical effort for building public awareness of recalls and is the first national campaign aimed at empowering vehicle owners,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “Millions of vehicles are recalled every year. Old, new, used or leased – one of those recalled vehicles could be yours. Check your VIN – Safe Cars Save Lives.”

On April 28, 2015, NHTSA convened a Retooling Recalls workshop comprised of leading transportation officials, automotive industry representatives, safety advocates and researchers to examine the reasons for low recall repair rates, and options for improving the process.

To that end, today NHTSA also issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM). The ANPRM seeks to identify additional ways to notify vehicle owners, purchasers and dealers of safety-related defects and noncompliances. Members of the public can read the ANPRM and provide feedback by clicking here.

“Boosting repair rates requires effective communication at every level and every step of the way,” said Rosekind. “We’re interested in what the public has to say about recall notifications and today we issued a proposal to get their input. Success is getting a 100 percent completion rate for every single recall.”

When cars are recalled in the U.S., manufacturers provide the affected VINs to be loaded into the NHTSA database so consumers can search for open recalls. Owners are contacted directly by the manufacturers through the postal mail using a specially marked envelope to distinguish it from junk mail.

Today’s announcement builds on NHTSA’s current efforts to provide consumers with information to help them make informed vehicle safety decisions, including the VIN Lookup tool, 5-Star Safety Ratings System, and mobile apps for Apple and Android devices that provide on-the-spot information on crash protection features, advanced safety features, and recalls on new vehicles and many older models.

Stay connected with NHTSA: Search for open recalls with VIN look up | Download the Safercar Mobile App for Apple or Android devices | Receive recall alerts by email | Visit us on | Follow us on | Watch 5-Star Safety Ratings crash tests on |