NTEA Prevails in NHTSA EWR Effort

After a multi-year effort, the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) has succeeded in convincing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to provide the work truck industry with significant relief from the regulatory burdens associated with the Early Warning Reporting (EWR) rule.

In a final rule published in the Sept. 17 Federal Register, NHTSA has agreed to the NTEA’s requests and amended the applicability of the EWR’s comprehensive reporting requirements from manufacturers with an annual production level of 500 or more vehicles to 5,000 or more per year.

In 2000, Congress enacted the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act. As part of that law, Congress directed NHTSA to begin collecting data from motor vehicle manufacturers that could provide an earlier warning of safety defects. In 2002, NHTSA created the EWR requiring manufacturers to submit significant amounts of data on a quarterly basis. Since Congress had admonished NHTSA to be cautious of the regulatory burden being imposed, NHTSA created a small-volume manufacturer category that required minimal reporting. That category’s annual production volume was set at fewer than 500 vehicles per year.

The NTEA argued that the small-volume production level set by NHTSA was too low and would result in a significant burden on small companies without providing NHTSA data of any statistical significance. NHTSA initially rejected the Association’s arguments.

The NTEA officially petitioned NHTSA to amend the EWR rule by raising the comprehensive reporting production threshold for manufacturers from 500 to 5,000 vehicles annually. In December 2008, NHTSA finally issued a proposed rule to amend the production levels, but the proposal offered only partial relief.

In its original notice to amend the EWR thresholds, NHTSA proposed increasing the production level from 500 to 5,000 for manufacturers of light vehicles (cars, vans and pickups) and trailers, eliminating the small-volume reporting category for buses (making every bus manufacturer submit comprehensive reports) and keeping the level at 500 for medium and heavy vehicles. This proposal was not acceptable to the NTEA.

The NTEA argued, supported by the Small Business Administration and multiple congressional offices, that providing regulatory relief to truck manufacturers was both necessary and appropriate.

In the final rule, NHTSA agreed with the NTEA that medium and heavy truck producers should get relief from the comprehensive quarterly reporting burden. The new regulation increases the small-volume manufacturer category from fewer than 500 to fewer than 5,000 vehicles per year for light vehicles, trailers and medium/heavy vehicles, as requested by the NTEA.

NHTSA has decided not to amend the reporting categories for emergency vehicle manufacturers and has also decided not to eliminate the small-volume category for bus manufacturers but rather to reduce it from fewer than 500 to fewer than 100 vehicles per year. The NTEA argued that completely eliminating the small-volume bus category would require a company that produced even one bus to comprehensively report. Such reporting would be of no value to NHTSA in its efforts to identify defects in a timelier manner. NHTSA agreed with the NTEA.

According to the final rule, the regulatory relief requested by the NTEA and provided by these amendments will be effective 30 days from the publication date of Sept. 17, 2009.

The effective date of the reporting requirement for bus manufacturers producing 100 or more buses per year but not currently required to report comprehensive data will be one year from today’s date. Accordingly, for these bus manufacturers, the first quarterly EWR reports that must be filed are for the quarter in which this requirement becomes effective.

For more information, call the NTEA at 1-800-441-NTEA (6832).
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