Manufacturers' TREAD Act Reporting Burden Eased

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a final rule today clarifying motor vehicle manufacturers' early warning reporting requirements under the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act. Manufacturers won't have to submit copies of some report to the agency now, and this rule revises the definition of fire and limits the time period for required updates to a few data elements in death and injury reports.

The rule's effective date is June 28, 2007, except for the amended definition of fire in 49 CFR 579.4(c), which is effective for the reporting period beginning on Jan. 1, 2008. Petitions for reconsideration of the final rule must be received no later than July 13.

The rule completes the first phase of NHTSA's review and update of the early warning reporting (EWR) rule. "Overall, this rule reduces burdens on the agency to review EWR information that has not advanced our mission in identifying potential defects and facilitates our focus on more probative information," NHTSA said in the document. "It will also reduce the reporting burden on manufacturers. It does not change the basic structure of the early warning reporting program." Manufacturers are required to report fires and to provide field reports involving fires. The final rule amends the definition of a fire to eliminate two examples of precursor events -- the terms "sparks" and "smoldering" -- and adds the term "melt" to the definition.

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