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Uncompleted recalls threaten safe rides from Uber, Lyft

There's no doubt that Uber and Lyft are a great addition to the options for needing quick and easy transportation. Along with cabs, they fill gaps in our public transportation infrastructure and are indispensable in certain situations. You're safer hiring an Uber, Lyft or cab driver to drive you home after a night of cocktails than you are driving while impaired.

But while these drivers may be saving lives in one respect, they may be exposing you to dangers you know nothing about. A recent investigation revealed that up to 40 percent of for-hire vehicles have safety recalls that have not yet been completed. The recalls aren't just new, either; some were issued five or more years ago. Some may not be serious, but others have deadly consequences, like the Takata airbag inflators that can explode in a crash and have led to 11 deaths in the U.S. so far. 

Needless to say, the lack of recall compliance exposes you to unnecessary risks. Here are some facts you should know:

  • The investigation checked out the vehicle identification number (VIN) of thousands of taxis nationally and found that on average, 20 to 40 percent of those vehicles had at least one recall order that has so far been ignored.
  • Uber requires a yearly vehicle inspection by an ASE-certified mechanic, but doesn't require its drivers to prove they've had recall work done.
  • Likewise, Lyft requires a safety inspection, but doesn't ask drivers to show they've had recalls taken care of.
  • In Los Angeles, the city isn't checking records to see if taxis have had their recall work done. But taxi companies are required to keep current repair records on file and share them with city officials if requested.
  • 51 million cars were recalled in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration--a record (and frightening) number.

Uncompleted federally mandated recalls are a problem right now, not just for taxis and ride sharing services. Many vehicle owners don't get the required recalls done and then pass those vehicles on to new, uninformed buyers. Because of increased focus on this issue, there may soon be laws to better protect both riders and drivers. Until then, fasten your seatbelt--as always. 

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