WASHINGTON — The National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration is now keeping closer tabs on vehicle
manufacturers and modifiers through a rigid schedule of
reporting requirements called the Early Warning Reporting
System. The program, which went into effect April 1, is
designed to more quickly identify vehicle safety defects.
It grew out of federal legislation passed in response to
the Ford-Firestone safety uproar.
NHTSA officials have said they are prepared to enforce
these requirements with fines of up to $5,000 a day, with a
maximum penalty of $15 million.
Coachbuilders must register with NHTSA and they must
periodically supply a report that lists all deaths that the
company has been informed of involving their vehicles.
Coachbuilders must also supply all written or electronic
communication they have had with more than one dealer
distributor, owner, lessor/lessee or other manufacturer if
the communication deals with:
• The repair, replacement or modification of a vehicle.
• The manner in which the vehicle is to be maintained or
• A directive to cease selling or distributing a vehicle.
This report is due at the end of each month. Marketing
materials, customer satisfaction surveys and owner’s
manuals do not have to be reported.
The few coachbuilders manufacturing more than 500 vehicles
a year face additional requirements: they must report not
only deaths, but also injuries or property damage claims.
Consumer complaints, warranty claims, and any field data of
defects involving the vehicle must also be sent to NHTSA.
These larger manufacturers are also required to supply
warranty claims and field reports for the past 12 quarters
and production numbers for all models (discontinued or not)
for the past 10 years.
“It is indeed a sad commentary that a government agency, at
a considerable cost to everyone, deems it necessary to
police the entire transportation industry, when most
responsible companies take safety very seriously and, in
fact, stake their company’s reputation on it without anyone
having to look over their shoulders,” said Mike Hill, vice
president of operations for Krystal Enterprises.
Krystal officials said they were unaware of the new
requirements and were just beginning to assess their
Several vehicle manufacturing groups, including the
National Association of Trailer Manufacturers, the
Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, the National
Truck Equipment Association, and the Special Equipment
Market Association, have been attempting to alter or gain
relief from the costs.
According to industry consultant Richard H. Klein, the
trailer and RV groups have appealed to NHTSA to raise the
threshold for some of the reporting requirements. They
argue that some of the strict requirements should be
limited to Ford, General Motors and other manufacturers.
Contact Klein at email@example.com for more information.