Navigating Auto Recalls

Is your car one of the over 50 million affected by safety recalls in 2016? How would you know?

In December 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration  began consolidating its various websites (including safercar.gov) into NHTSA.gov to provide a single place for auto recall information.

So, how usable is this website? Today’s WatchBlog explores our recent report on auto recalls.

Searches could be easier…

We talked to consumers across the country to test the usability of NHTSA.gov. Many of these consumers found the website easy to use, but others thought searching for auto recall information was confusing and suggested improvements.

For example, the site could use clearer language to help consumers choose the appropriate year, make, and model of their cars when performing searches.

…as could e-mail signup…

Some consumers couldn’t figure out where to sign up for recall notification e-mails. They suggested that the sign-up link be moved to the top of the homepage and include a clearer description so that it is easier to find.

This is particularly important because some consumers said that the ability to sign-up for e-mail notifications was the most useful part of NHTSA.gov—and most consumers preferred to receive recall notifications electronically and by mail.

Figure 5: Location of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Recall Notification E-mail System Sign-Up Task on NHTSA.gov’s Homepage

…so we recommended

We found that the auto recall areas of NHTSA.gov do not always reflect key practices for website usability. NHTSA is still in the process of consolidating its websites and plans to study the usability of NHTSA.gov with consumers when the effort is complete.

We recommended that NHTSA take steps to address these issues as it continues to consolidate its websites.

Want to know more? Have a “Cuppa GAO” with Director Susan Fleming, who answered questions about auto recalls during one of our Facebook Live events.


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