The evolution of auto recall rates

Over the past several years, numerous media outlets have reported that much of the American public is suffering from a phenomenon referred to as recall fatigue. The concept of recall fatigue is rooted in the idea that when an overwhelming number of recalls is publicized, the public becomes overloaded with information and ultimately stops responding to recalls with any sense of urgency. It is important to understand this phenomenon in order to properly address it.

The simple fact remains that recalls exist in order to better protect the public from potential harm. If a recall is advertised and a consumer fails to respond to it, that consumer may ultimately find it difficult to obtain compensation if he or she is harmed by the defective product outlined by the recall. In addition, responding to recalls promptly can help to prevent harm from occurring in the first place.

One might assume that as regulators and manufacturers become increasingly aware of how important it is to produce safe products that the rate of recalls would ultimately lessen. Hopefully someday recall rates will reduce because safer products are being marketed. However, the current reality is that recall numbers are increasing because regulators and manufacturers are trying to ensure that dangerous products are taken off the marketplace.

Until manufacturers create safer products, the number of defective auto claims and recalls remain likely to increase rather than decrease. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s administrator recently emphasized this point by predicting that record auto recall rates in 2014 could be surpassed in 2015. Please, if a product you own is recalled, do not ignore the recall. There are so many recalls being initiated that recall fatigue is understandable. However, it is ultimately your safety that remains at risk if you ignore recall warnings.

Source: Detroit Free Press, “NHTSA's Rosekind: Expect more not fewer recalls,” Greg Gardner, Jan. 12, 2015

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