The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed several revisions to the early warning rules, but the changes should have no impact on most manufacturers of specialty equipment.

In 2002, the NHTSA established an “early warning” system for reporting information to the agency that could provide clues to potential future safety problems. Most of the direct reporting requirements are limited to vehicle and tire manufacturers. 

Under the current rules, all vehicle and equipment manufacturers must provide the NHTSA with notice of fatalities that are alleged or proven to be the result of defects. Furthermore, large-volume vehicle manufacturers (more than 500 vehicles annually), large-volume tire manufacturers (more than 15,000 tires of same size and design annually) and child-restraint system manufacturers must supply the NHTSA with “early warning” information about injuries, property damage, consumer complaints, warranty claims, field reports and production data every calendar quarter.

Equipment manufacturers are not required to supply early warning materials, but reporting is triggered under two circumstances: 1) an incident or allegation involving a death; 2) the company issues recall notices, advisories or customer-satisfaction campaigns referencing a defect, failure or malfunction, whether or not such defect is safety-related.

With respect to the revisions, the NHTSA is proposing to raise the threshold for large-volume vehicle manufacturers from 500 to 5,000 or more vehicles. The NHTSA is also requesting that manufacturers subject to the reporting requirements consistently reference the same product name from quarter to quarter, and that tire manufacturers provide more information identifying tires subject to recall. 

For more information, contact Stuart Gosswein: