Senators Markey and Blumenthal Reintroduce Legislation to Improve Transparency, Increase Reporting to Prevent Auto Injuries and Fatalities


New data indicates NHTSA launched only 13 auto defect investigations in 2017, an all-time low


Washington (August 2, 2018) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee members, today reintroduced the Early Warning Reporting System Improvement Act, which will ensure auto manufacturers provide more information about incidents involving fatalities and serious injuries to the public.  In June, Consumer Reports released an analysis finding that National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched only 13 defect investigations in 2017, an all-time low.  The Senator’s legislation will require NHTSA to make the information it receives from auto manufacturers publicly available in a searchable, user-friendly format so that consumers and independent safety experts can evaluate potential safety defects themselves.


“NHTSA, the nation’s automobile safety cop-on-the-beat, is asleep at the wheel when it comes to investigating defects,” said Senator Markey. “Automobile defects must first be identified before they can be remediated. This legislation will ensure critical safety information is publicly available, so independent automobile safety experts and the public can identify and report potential defects in light on NHTSA’s inaction.”


“Detailed and accurate information about potentially lethal defects can saves lives,” said Senator Blumenthal. “NHTSA should be looking out for American drivers – making this life-saving information more available, not more difficult to access. This regularly updated and publicly available database will be a vital tool for drivers and consumer advocates in preventing future harm. I am pleased to join Senator Markey in championing this effort.”


A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.

Specifically, the Early Warning Reporting System Improvement Act:

  • Requires automobile and equipment manufacturers to automatically submit the accident report or other document that first alerted them to a fatality or serious injury involving their vehicle or equipment to NHTSA’s 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);
  • 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.