NHTSA Creates Mandatory Label For Recall Notices To Keep You From Throwing Them Away

February 19, 2014

Our inboxes are overflowing with email, and the U.S. Postal Service is dying a slow, agonizing death (inspiring wacky plans for the P.O. to begin making payday-style loans). And yet, huge volumes of junk still slide through our mail slots every single week. In fact, many days, junk is all we receive.

That's created a problem for companies that need to contact consumers via snail mail about very important stuff -- stuff like auto recalls, which are still delivered in rain, snow, and gloom of night by your friendly, neighborhood postal worker. 

And so, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has taken a bold step to prevent consumers from confusing recall notices with the latest reverse mortgage solicitation: NHTSA has created a special label that, as of yesterday, is required to go on all envelopes containing recall notices.

How is that going to keep people from tossing out those notices accidentally? Well, for starters, the label has a big red stripe at the top. That's something. And it has "Federal Law" printed in big, bold letters -- surely no junk mail purveyor has ever used those words on an envelope before.

Our take? There's nothing wrong with NHTSA's label, per se, but it feels like a very old-school approach to a problem that needs a newer-school solution.

Could that solution come in the form of NHSTA's safety and recall apps for Apple and Android devices? Maybe, but they don't do much to serve people without smartphones -- or those who don't bother to download the apps. 

Frankly, we think the best tool of all is NHTSA's email notification service. You can enter makes and models for up to five vehicles you'd like to track, which is useful for big families or small fleets. You can also choose to be notified about recalls of tires and child safety seats. Just make sure NHSTA's emails don't end up in your spam folder. 

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