This past summer, Congress passed the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st
Century Act, instructing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to ensure that individualized vehicle recall information is made publicly available on the Internet in a database searchable by vehicle identification number (VIN).
NHTSA suggests a “one stop shop”– a centralized database on its website, www.safercar.gov
, which will collect and distribute recall data from all major OEMs. The website currently allows for general searches based on vehicle make and model, but that search functionality will be upgraded to allow a vehicle owner to search for recall information using just his or her VIN. The search results will be customized; providing the owner with vehicle-specific recall information, including whether the vehicle is subject to a recall, whether it remains “un-remedied,” whether it has already been repaired and when, etc.
Of course, this database can only be created and maintained with the assistance of OEMs. NHTSA’s proposal would impose the following obligations on these manufacturers:
- Initially, OEMs will be required to submit to NHTSA the VINs and recall completion data for vehicles covered by a recall instituted within the preceding 24 months.
- When OEMs submit their Defect or Non-Compliance Reports to NHTSA, they must also transmit a table with VINs and recall completion data for each vehicle in an electronic format dictated by NHTSA.
- OEMs must continue to submit this electronic table to NHTSA at least once daily for 10 years.
Federal Regulations already require OEMs to identify by VIN the vehicles involved in a safety recall and to provide recall completion data for each vehicle in their quarterly reports to NHTSA. So, the burden of the proposed rule is not necessarily supplying the required information, but rather the requirement that OEMs update recall completion data every single day for 10 years
. Further, many major OEMs, including Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda and Toyota, already have a VIN-based search tool available on their websites. Requiring these manufacturers to develop a duplicate database specifically for NHTSA may unnecessarily expend resources while doing little to advance consumer safety. During the comment period for the proposed rule, Ford suggested that NHTSA could accomplish its objectives simply by providing a link to Ford’s VIN-search web page.
The comment period for NHTSA’s proposed rule closed on November 9, 2012, and the agency is currently analyzing comments it received. To review those comments and the text of the proposed rule, see http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NHTSA-2012-0068;dct=FR%252BPR%252BN%252BO%252BSR