Audit on NHTSA's Office of Defects Questions Decision to Limit Early-Warning Reporting Information to Public - aftermarketNews

Audit on NHTSA’s Office of Defects Questions Decision to Limit Early-Warning Reporting Information to Public

An audit report released by the Office of the Inspector General regarding the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) activities related to the Transportation Recall Enhancement Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act criticized the agency's handling of its Early-Warning Reporting (EWR) data collection system and the lack of analytical tools.

From AAIA’s Capital Report

WASHINGTON — An audit report released by the Office of the Inspector General regarding the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) activities related to the Transportation Recall Enhancement Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act criticized the agency’s handling of its Early-Warning Reporting (EWR) data collection system and the lack of analytical tools.

The report questioned the agency’s decision to limit EWR information to the public: information related to claims and notices involving death and personal injury, the number of property damage claims and production numbers for light vehicles, with all other information exempt from public disclosure before NHTSA opens a defect investigation.

The report also criticized the system for not having the analytical capabilities envisioned to help point analysts toward potential safety defects warranting further investigation. On the other hand, the report commended the agency for improving the defect screening process by implementing a peer review panel that documents all potential defect investigations and reasons for not opening an investigation.

In response to the findings, the agency said it is concerned that the report could be interpreted to overstate the ability of EWR data to point to safety defects in the absence of further inquiry and investigation.

Finally, the audit did applaud the agency for taking steps to implement the 22 requirements of the law. Specifically, the TREAD Act requires the agency to complete 15 rulemakings and seven studies, reports and programs in areas such as tire standards and child restraint safety.

The report recommended that NHTSA revise the EWR data analysis plan to better define the advanced analytical capabilities needed, establish milestones for incorporating EWR information into the defect screening process and train defect analysts on new procedures that ensure decisions relating to the opening of safety defect investigations are based on thorough and consistent analyses of all available information. NHTSA said it concurred with the recommendations, and is taking appropriate actions to implement them.

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