Calls for Markey-Blumenthal safety bill to be included in highway funding bill

Washington (June 5, 2014) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, released the following statement today after GM released its internal investigation of the defective ignition switches in its vehicles that led to the deaths of at least 13 people and injuries to dozens more. In April, Senators Markey and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced S. 2151, The Early Warning Reporting Act, legislation that would require more information to be reported to the public Early Warning Reporting database when auto manufacturers first become aware of incidents involving fatalities.

“This report reveals GM recognizes it must take the difficult but important initial steps to clean up a culture of ineptitude. But we need more than an accounting of past mistakes; we need to ensure accountability and that permanent measures are put in place to prevent future deaths. An internal investigation alone is not nearly enough to ensure that a decade-long tragedy like this never happens again. Until we end the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ culture that enabled these tragedies, we risk the potential that auto manufacturers will again keep deadly secrets and that a regulator will again keep the public in the dark. We need to enact legislation that requires auto manufacturers to submit information on possible defects as soon as they become aware of them, and for NHTSA to make that information available to the public so they can receive true early warnings. I will continue to work with Senator Blumenthal and all of my colleagues to ensure that our critical legislation that will help protect American families from injury and possibly death is included in the transportation bill.” 

Specifically, the Early Warning Reporting System Improvement Act of 2014:

  • • Requires 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 (National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration) Early Warning Reporting database. NHTSA is then required to automatically make those documents public unless they are exempted from public disclosure under the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA). Presently, these documents are only provided to NHTSA if the agency requests them, and they are not made public unless they are requested under FOIA;
  • • Requires NHTSA to consider EWR information when it is investigating potential safety defects and when it is evaluating citizen petitions for automobile safety standards or enforcement actions;
  • • Requires NHTSA to upgrade its online databases to improve searchability, integrate its different databases so they can all be searched at once, and ensure that all documents obtained or created by NHTSA related to a safety incident are both made publicly available and keyword searchable in its databases; and
  • • Requires NHTSA to provide public, searchable notices of all inspection and investigation activities it undertakes.

More information about Senator Markey’s leadership on the GM recall can be found HERE.