Contact: Giselle Barry (Markey) 202-224-2742
Josh Zembik (Blumenthal) 202-224-6452
In wake of recent historic auto recall, Senators introduced legislation to increase transparency and earlier reporting of auto defects
Washington (September 29, 2015) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) released the following joint statement after the national Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today announced that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles under-reported notices and claims of deaths, injuries and other information required as part of the Early Warning Reporting system. Recently, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was found to have violated the Motor Vehicle Safety Act in the way it executed vehicle safety recalls covering more than eleven million defective vehicles. As part of NHTSA’s enforcement action, it required the automaker to provide NHTSA with comprehensive reporting on each death or injury incident that is reportable to the agency. This also followed recent Senate hearing remarks from the head of NHTSA committing to transparency and a possible rulemaking to make more information available to the public
“Yet again, we are told an automaker failed to submit all early warning documents related to potentially fatal defects, and once again NHTSA continues to drag its feet on issuing new requirements that would make this critical reporting immediate and mandatory. Fiat Chrysler must be held accountable for any wrongdoing, and NHTSA must issue new rules to detect fatal defects. And we need to make early warning information available to the public on a user-friendly website so we reduce the chance that yet another safety defect goes undetected.”
In August, Senator Markey and Blumenthal sent a letter to NHTSA reiterating their call to NHTSA to increase early warning reporting requirements for automakers in order to make more potentially life-saving information available to the federal agency and the public.
Senators Markey and Blumenthal’s Early Warning Reporting System Improvement Act would require automobile and equipment manufacturers to automatically submit the accident report or other document that first alerted them to a fatality involving their vehicle or equipment to NHTSA’s Early Warning Reporting database. NHTSA would then required to automatically make those documents public unless they are exempted from public disclosure under Freedom Of Information Act. The legislation also would require NHTSA to consider Early Warning Reporting information when it is investigating potential safety defects and when it is evaluating citizen petitions for automobile safety standards or enforcement actions.