Washington, D.C. (November 12, 2014) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) today sent a letter urging President Obama to review and reform the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) safety mission when nominating its new Administrator. In the letter, the Senators urge President Obama to encourage and empower the new NHTSA administrator to take five key steps to improve public confidence in NHTSA: 1) improve transparency, 2) curtail regional recalls, 3) take dangerous cars off the road, 4) end voluntary service campaigns for safety defects, and 5) ensure sufficient resources for the agency. The Senators highlighted the recent Takata airbag recall, the GM ignition switch recall and the urgent need to reform NHTSA’s Early Warning Reporting (EWR) system.
“We believe this is an opportunity to improve NHTSA’s safety mission by providing the agency with strong leadership and reforming some of its practices,” write the Senators in the letter to President Obama. “NHTSA must alter its practices to require automakers to publicly release more information about accidents that could be caused by safety defects, upgrade its own safety databases, and do a better job of enforcing compliance with transparency measures intended to provide early warnings about potentially dangerous defects to the public.”
A copy of the letter to President Obama can be found HERE.
This month, Senators Blumenthal and Markey called on the Department of Justice to open an investigation of Takata. And in October, Markey and Blumenthal sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx urging NHTSA to provide clearer guidance to drivers with potentially defective Takata airbags, and to urge NHTSA to issue an immediate nationwide recall on all-affected cars. Earlier last month, Blumenthal and Markey also called on David Friedman, the Acting Administrator for NHTSA, about NHTSA’s Early Warning Reporting system and the efficacy of the regional recalls.
In March, following the recall of more than a million GM vehicles after dozens of deaths and injuries, Senators Markey and Blumenthal introduced legislation to ensure auto manufacturers provide more information about incidents involving fatalities to NHTSA. The legislation, the Early Warning Reporting System Improvement Act, would require NHTSA 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.