2009-04-03 / Columnists

Notes On Consumer Affairs

Commentary By Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer

AUDREY PHEFFER AUDREY PHEFFER The Internet has changed our lives in countless ways. Individuals and businesses use the Internet every day to send and receive information around the globe and around the block. Government agencies are increasingly using Internet technology to fulfill their missions to protect and educate citizens. Many federal and state agencies have established general reference websites that incorporate innovative Internet tools such as e-mail alerts and Really Simple Syndication (RSS) to deliver important information to citizens.

These websites generally focus on a particular government program or consumer issue. One such site established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Saf ercar.gov, contains a wealth of information about safe driving, vehicle safety, and automotive recalls. With the summer driving season fast approaching, now is as good a time as any to point your web browser to Safer car.gov and take advantage of the safety information and notification services described below.

A new feature available on Safer car.gov that is expected to be very popular is the automotive recall notification system. Consumers may register their e-mail address with the NHTSA through the website to receive automotive recall notifications via e-mail or RSS. You may choose to receive alerts about recalls related to vehicles, tires, and/or child restraints. If you sign up to receive vehicle recall alerts, you may narrow the scope of your subscription by selecting a vehicle make and model year for which you would like to receive notification. If you decide to sign up for this service and do not receive the confirmation e-mail necessary to complete your subscription shortly after making the request to subscribe, check your spam e-mail filter and make sure that it is set to allow messages from donotreplyodi@ dot.gov.

Another helpful feature of the website is the child restraint registration page. This section of the website allows parents and caregivers to register a child restraint seat directly with the manufacturer by following links to manufacturers' registration websites, or by submitting a completed child restraint registration form (available on the website) to the NHTSA, who will then forward your registration information to the manufacturer. As with all children's products, it is important that child restraints are registered with the manufacturer to ensure that the owner is notified of any safety recall or warning.

Safercar.gov also contains a wealth of information for consumers on various automotive safety subjects including tire ratings and safety, air bag safety, and rollover prevention. You can learn about tire rotation, factors to consider in deciding whether to activate or deactivate air bags and new technologies such as electronic stability control, rollover air-bags, and tire pressure monitoring systems.

For more information on motor vehicle safety, you may want to visit the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee's website at: http://www.nysg tsc.state.ny.us/.

For more information on child restraints, you may want to visit the Consumer Protection Board's website (http://www.consumer.state. ny. us/) to view the Board's Car Seat Safety Tip Card (click on the "CPB's Publications, Audio and Videos" link on the left hand side of the homepage under "Consumer Assistance").

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