A new Government Accountability Office study looked at how consumers obtain and access vehicle recall information. In light of the number of different vehicle recalls that have been issued in recent years and the number of personal injury lawsuits filed about defective vehicle parts, it is more important than ever how the NHTSA handles the distributions of recall information. A focused group of 94 consumers was included in the study and GAO found that most of them prefer receiving details about a recall electronically in addition to standard mail.

Only 7 out of the 94 study consumers, however, had ever received electronic communications like emails or text messages. This, according to GAO, indicates a gap between the intentions and procedures of the NHTSA, particularly for younger motorists who primarily communicate through electronic means. In addition, those consumers who spend a lot of time away from home where they could check their mail, like truck drivers, may never receive the recall notification that is sent to their mailbox.

This could put them at an increased chance of a serious vehicle accident due to a defective vehicle part. One manufacturer on the market has already reported making use of electronic communications to notify consumers and higher recall completion rates were recorded as a result.

A proposed rule last year from NHTSA would mandate that manufacturers inform consumers of recalls electronically as well as through ground mail. The GAO study also identified that the recall website for NHTSA is not as user-friendly as it could be, making it difficult for people who may need to find critical recall information to do so in a timely fashion. If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident or were in an accident that was caused by a defective vehicle part, you need to consult with a lawyer.