DETROIT — People are waiting longer than they should for an answer when they petition the government to open an investigation into what could be serious safety problems.
The Associated Press reviewed all 15 petitions filed by drivers with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration since 2010 and found the agency missed the legal deadline to grant or deny the requests 12 times. One petition from 2012 has yet to be resolved.
A 1974 law passed to make the agency move faster requires a decision within four months of receiving a petition. But even though the agency has fined automakers such as General Motors and Toyota millions for missing deadlines to disclose safety issues, there is no penalty when it’s tardy itself.
NHTSA concedes it has missed the deadlines but says it often must ask petitioners for more data to complete its analysis. Still, in eight petitions reviewed by the AP, it took more than a year to open an investigation or close the case.