LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - There is a dangerous and growing problem on local roadways: A staggering increase in the number of unfixed vehicle recalls.
Those equipment defects put all drivers at risk. So why are so many drivers ignoring the warnings?
An estimated 2.5 million motorists drive on Kentucky and Indiana roads with unfixed safety recalls. More than 150,000 are in the Louisville Metro, according to data collected by Carfax.
"We're talking about one out of every four cars on the road with a dangerous unfixed recall," Carfax spokesman Chris Basso said.
There has been a 26-percent increase in the number of unfixed recalls in Louisville Metro since last year, a staggering 34-percent increase nationwide.
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Finding faulty vehicles can be disturbingly easy. Using the MyCarfax app, WAVE 3 News ran the license plates of several cars in a local shopping center parking lot and found dangerous cars.
According to Carfax, one Ford Edge parked in the shopping center had an unfixed fuel tank problem that could have caused a fire. It also still had the dangerous recalled Takata airbags that can rupture in a crash.
Basso said family cars like SUVs and minivans are more likely to have unfixed recalls than other cars, adding that the demands of family life often keep parents from getting the defects fixed.
"These are vehicles that we are putting our kids in, bringing them to school and soccer practice, every single day," he said.
Such vehicles include a Toyota 4-Runner that WAVE 3 News discovered with an unfixed recall for a stuck-open accelerator pedal that may result in very high vehicle speeds and make it difficult to stop the vehicle, according to the data on the MyCarfax app. The defect could cause a crash, serious injury or death.
Not all drivers know about unfixed recalls in their vehicles, which is why the industry is working to improve gaps in the notification system when owners move or a car is resold.
Motorist Justin Froman told WAVE 3 News he didn't know about any of the three unfixed recalls on his Chevy Silverado when he bought it used. His truck wasn't parked far from another problem vehicle, a Dodge Ram pickup which, according to Carfax, has open recalls for two airbags that could rupture and shoot metal fragments into the passengers, as well as a steering problem that could cause him to lose control and crash.
Basso said an increasing focus on vehicle safety and manufacturer recalls can seem like white noise to car owners who often lose sight of which recalls apply to them and how serious they are. To check for unfixed recalls on your own vehicle, you can use the free MyCarfax app, or you can use the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website.