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NHTSA releases 'final' early warning reporting regulations

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released its final rule on 1). the reporting of information and documents about potential defects, and 2). the retention of records that could indicate defects.

NHTSA's summary of the rule appears below. However, petitions for reconsideration of the final rule still can be submitted to NHTSA. All petitions should refer to Docket No. NHTSA 2001-8677; Notice 3, and sent to: Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

NTHSA summary

In our notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) (66 FR 66190), we proposed to divide manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment into two groups with different responsibilities for reporting

information that could indicate the existence of potential safety-related defects. There was no opposition to this approach, and we are

adopting it.

The first group consists of larger manufacturers of motor vehicles, and all manufacturers of child restraint systems and tires. In general, the larger vehicle manufacturers must report separately on four

categories of vehicles (if they produced, imported, offered for sale, or sold 500 or more of a category annually in the United States): light vehicles, medium-heavy vehicles and all buses, trailers and motorcycles.

1. Deaths. These manufacturers must report certain specified information about each incident involving a death that occurred in the

United States that is identified in a claim (as defined) against and received by the manufacturer. They must also report information about incidents involving a death in the United States that is identified in a notice received by the manufacturer alleging or proving that the death was caused by a possible defect in the manufacturer's product.

Finally, they must report on each death occurring in foreign countries that is identified in a claim against the manufacturer involving the manufacturer's product, or one that is identical or substantially similar to a product that the manufacturer has offered for sale in the United States.

2. Injuries. These manufacturers must report certain specified information about each incident involving an injury that occurred in the United States that is identified in a claim against and received by the manufacturer, or that is identified in a notice received by the manufacturer which notice alleges or proves that the injury was caused by a possible defect in the manufacturer's product.

3. Property damage. These manufacturers (other than child restraint system manufacturers) must report the numbers of claims for property damage that occurred in the United States that are related to alleged problems with certain specified components and systems, regardless of the amount of such claims.

4. Consumer complaints. These manufacturers (other than tire manufacturers) must report the numbers of consumer complaints they receive that are related to problems with certain specified components and systems that occurred in the United States. Manufacturers of child restraint systems must report the combined number of such consumer complaints and warranty claims, as discussed below.

5. Warranty claims information. These manufacturers must report the number of warranty claims (adjustments for tire

manufacturers), including extended warranty and good will, they receive that are related to problems with certain specified components and

systems that occurred in the United States. As noted above, manufacturers of child restraint systems must combine these with the number of reportable consumer complaints.

6. Field reports. These manufacturers (other than tire manufacturers) must report the total number of field reports they receive from the manufacturer's employees, representatives, and dealers, and from fleets, that are related to problems with certain specified components and systems that occurred in the United States. In addition, manufacturers must provide copies of certain field reports received from their employees, representatives, and fleets, but are not required to provide copies of reports received from dealers.

7. Production. These manufacturers must report the number of vehicles, child restraint systems, and tires, by make, model, and model

year, during the reporting period and the prior nine model years (prior four years for child restraint systems and tires).

These manufacturers must separately report the numbers identified above for each model and model year, as the rule defines it (10 years

for vehicles and five years for tires and child restraint systems).

A manufacturer or brand name owner of tires will not have to report any information other than information relating to incidents involving deaths for limited production tires and other tires exempted from the Uniform Tire Quality Grading Standards pursuant to 49 CFR

575.104(c)(1). In addition, tire manufacturers need only report incidents involving deaths for tires other than passenger car tires, light truck tires, or motorcycle tires.

(Manufacturers should note these exclusions in reviewing the reporting requirements under this

rule, as we may not repeat it in all instances in which it may apply).

The second group of manufacturers consists of all other manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment, i.e., vehicle manufacturers insofar as they produced, imported, or sold in the United States fewer than 500 light vehicles, medium-heavy vehicles

(including buses), motorcycles, or trailers annually, manufacturers of original motor vehicle equipment and manufacturers of replacement motor vehicle equipment other than child restraint systems and tires. These

manufacturers must report the same information about incidents involving deaths as the first category, but are not required to report

any other information.

In addition, all vehicle and equipment manufacturers in both groups must provide copies of all documents sent or made available to more than one dealer, distributor, owner, purchaser, lessor or lessee, in the United States with respect to customer satisfaction campaigns, consumer advisories, recalls, or other activities involving the repair or replacement of vehicles or equipment.

Reports must be submitted electronically, in specified formats. The components and systems on which reporting is required will vary,

depending on the type of product involved. Documents such as consumer advisories must be submitted electronically or in hard copy.

With respect to the information required to be submitted under this rule, there will be four reporting periods each calendar year of three

months each. The first such report will cover the second calendar quarter of 2003. Reports, including copies of field reports, will be

due not later than 30 days after the end of a calendar quarter, except for the final three calendar quarters of 2003, when we are allowing a period of 60 days after the end of the calendar quarter.

Documents other than field reports that are required to be submitted under this final rule (those documents currently required under 49 CFR 573.8), will be due not later than five working days after the end of the month in

which they are generated by the manufacturer, beginning with April 2003.

To help NHTSA identify trends that could indicate potential safety problems, manufacturers will be required, on a one-time basis, to report the number of warranty claims or adjustments and the number of field reports for each calendar quarter during the three-year period from April 1, 2000 through March 31, 2003, the date preceding the beginning of the first reporting period that is established by the final rule, April 1, 2003. Submission of copies of field reports is not required under this one-time provision.

We are also adopting amendments that extend the recordkeeping requirements of 49 CFR Part 576 to child restraint system and tire

manufacturers. These manufacturers will now be required to maintain the same types of records that manufacturers of vehicles have been required to keep under 49 CFR Part 576.

Manufacturers of tires will also be required to retain for five years records of purchasers of tires they manufacture. Manufacturers of motor vehicles will be required to retain for five

years records of tires on each vehicle manufactured and the purchaser

of each vehicle. Currently, 49 CFR Part 574 requires that these records be retained for three years.

In addition, the record retention requirements have been expanded to require all manufacturers to retain, for five years, the underlying

records on which the information they provide NHTSA under the early warning rule is based. (For manufacturers of equipment other than tires and child restraint systems, this is limited to records related to incidents referred to in claims and notices involving deaths.)

The final rule is effective August 9, 2002. The first quarterly reporting period for early warning information begins on April 1, 2003.

Quarterly reports for calendar 2003 will not be due until two months following the end of the quarter, (e.g., the first quarterly report

will be due on August 31, 2003). Thereafter, beginning with the first quarter of calendar 2004, information is due 30 days following the end of the reporting period.

The one-time report of historical information

will be due September 30, 2003, approximately 90 days following the end of the first reporting period. The documents that are required to be submitted on a monthly basis will be due five days after the end of the

month in which they are generated, beginning with April 2003.

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