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Friday, December 12, 2014

Cartwright Seeks Better Reporting and Transparency For Auto Fatalities

Under a 2000 law described as an early warning system, automakers are required to report traffic deaths and injuries so that possible defects can be spotted. But the law applies only if the automaker is sued or receives a written claim.

Congressman Matt Cartwight (Pa. 17th) has proposed a new law, the Early Warning Reporting System Improvement Act of 2014, to tighten up the reporting and
  • Require automobile and equipment manufacturers to automatically submit the accident report or other documents that first alerted them to a fatality 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 FOIA.
  • Require NHTSA to consider Early Warning Reporting information when it is investigating potential safety defects and when it is evaluating citizen petitions for automobile safety standards or enforcement actions.
  • Require NHTSA to upgrade its online database 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.
  • Require NHTSA to provide public, searchable notices of all inspection and investigation activities it undertakes.

Cartwright points to Kelly Ruddy of Scranton, who was only 21 years old when she lost her life in a deadly crash on Interstate 81. She was driving north a 2005 Chevy Cobalt. A faulty ignition switch was responsible for that and numerous other crashes and deaths across the nation. GM recalled 2.6 million vehicles, including 2005 Cobalts, earlier this year.

Similar legislation was been introduced in the Senate by U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA).

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