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Auto recalls increased: consumer safety at risk?

Vehicle recalls can represent significant safety issues for drivers in the U.S. A new report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that auto manufacturers had more than 650 safety recalls in 2012. The recalls affected more than 17.8 million vehicles and included safety issues involving vehicle equipment and child-safety seats.

The increase in auto recalls last year was attributed to consumer complaints, according to the NHTSA. They said the most of the recalls were issued after receiving a complaint by a U.S. consumer. The NHTSA reported that they received 41,912 safety complaints last year, compared to 49,417 in 2011 and 65,765 in 2010.

The agency said that they use consumer complaints to investigate safety issues on vehicles, citing that many safety issues were not known by the NHTSA until consumers reported the issues. In addition to consumer complaints, the NHTSA reviews reporting data, technical service bulletins, auto websites, trade publications and automotive magazines to identify and investigate possible vehicle defects.

Consumer complaints continue to have a significant impact on auto recalls in the U.S. The NHTSA reported that 15.5 vehicles were recalled in 2011. They said that consumer complaints may not continue to stay as high as previous years as they hope newer automobiles have better safety designs and offer more protection for consumers.

The NHTSA encourages consumers to continue filing consumer complaints if they suspect a safety issue with their vehicle. Consumers can visit www.safecar.gov to report a defect or investigate an auto recall.

Drivers should be aware of any potential safety issues with their vehicle and report any concerns right away. Unsafe vehicles can lead to serious and fatal car accidents which is why the NHTSA recommends checking for safety issues and defects periodically and reporting any concerns.

Source: Washington Post, "NHTSA issues 17.8 million recalls in 2012," Jan. 18, 2013

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