The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a regulation that will implement the early warning reporting provisions of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act.

“Under this rule, motor vehicle and motor vehicle equipment manufacturers will be required to report information that will assist NHTSA in promptly identifying defects related to motor vehicle safety,” said NHTSA administrator Jeffrey Runge.

NHTSA has divided 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.

The first group consists of larger manufacturers of motor vehicles, (500 or more annually) and all manufacturers of child restraint systems and tyres. These manufacturers must report certain specified information about each incident involving deaths and injuries in the United States.

They must also report the number of warranty claims (adjustments for tyre manufacturers), consumer complaints, property damage claims, and field reports that they receive related to problems with certain specified components and systems.

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The second group of manufacturers consists of all other manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment, that is, manufacturers who produced, imported, or sold in the United States 499 or fewer vehicles annually, manufacturers of original motor vehicle equipment and manufacturers of replacement motor vehicle equipment other than child restraint systems and tyres.

These manufacturers must report the same information about incidents involving deaths as the first category but are not required to report any other information.

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

In addition, to allow the agency to effectively use this new data, larger manufacturers will be required to provide a limited amount of historical data on warranty claims and field reports covering three prior years on Sept. 30, 2003.