In the latest part of this summer series, we take a look at safety investigations.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) each released an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for automated driving systems on May 28, 2019.
NHTSA’s ANPRM seeks to build upon previous efforts to gather information from stakeholders and the public regarding the compliance challenges of implementing autonomous technologies. In the document, the agency discusses the types of barriers posed by the existing crash avoidance standards (100-series) and, second, what types of test methods could be employed to test vehicles that lack traditional controls. The agency intends to issue additional documents to address the crashworthiness standards (200-series) and standards involving tell-tales and indicators at a later date.
Comments on the ANPRM are due no later than July 29, 2019. It can be viewed by clicking here.
FMCSA’s ANPRM requests public comment about Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) that may need to be amended, revised, or eliminated to facilitate the introduction of commercial vehicles equipped with automated driving systems (ADS). In approaching the task of adapting its regulations to accommodate automated vehicle technologies, FMCSA is considering changes to its rules to account for significant differences between human operators and ADS.
Comments on the ANPRM are due no later than August 26, 2019. It can be viewed by clicking here.
In a letter submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on April 17, 2019, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone and Jan Schakowsky, chair of the panel’s consumer protection subcommittee, requested an update on NHTSA’s current workload, the work of its bureaus and offices, and its interactions with the public through its handling of consumer complaints. The letter asked that Deputy Administrator Heidi King provide answers to a series of questions by May 17, 2019.
The questions included asking the number of safety investigations opened, the progress toward implementing the 2018 recommendations from the Inspector General, and updates on the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) and Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act rulemaking deadlines, which have been repeatedly missed.
Kinetic Metrics recently conducted its own survey of how many investigations NHTSA has opened since the introduction of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act, shown in the table below.
Investigation numbers fell significantly in the past three years, with the number of Preliminary Evaluations dropping by 50% in years 2016 and 2017. Although investigation numbers have dropped, NHTSA has collected over $250 million in fines from the automotive industry in the same time frame. Provided these questions are answered next month, NHTSA may find itself in a position to make up for these deficiencies. Here at Kinetic Metrics we have always emphasized the importance of being proactive with safety. Do not fall victim to safety oversights, check out all the services we offer and talk to us about how we can help your company operate efficiently, effectively, and most of all, safely.
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or FAST Act for short, required the Office of Inspector General (OIG) to audit the recall processes of NHTSA’s Office of Defects investigation (ODI) and Recall Management Division (RMD). In their most recent report, the OIG found that, despite a 92 percent increase in the number of light passenger vehicle recalls per year and a 199 percent spike in the number of vehicles involved in recalls since 2012, NHTSA has “inadequate controls and processes for verifying and collecting manufacturer - reported information,” which cripples their ability to oversee the implementation of recalls. The OIG’s report identified several key shortcomings in NHTSA’s process and offered recommendations to remedy them.
Primarily the report finds that NHTSA lacks the ability to manage recall remedies, scope, and risk reporting as well as the ability to oversee the implementation of recalls. “The ODI’s monitoring process for light passenger vehicle recall remedies and scope lacks adequate management controls.” The report indicates that the ODI’s process is too limited to ensure that recall remedies are quickly and completely reported by manufacturers. Manufacturers are currently required to report the scope of recalls and recall remedies on an online portal, however, the OIG found that “manufacturers did not submit 28.1 percent of the required scope information in their initial recall reports, and submitted only 4.1 percent of the missing scope information in their final reports.” The RMD does not monitor manufacturers’ compliance with completing scope information which leads to this absence of required data. The report details that the portal used for reporting scope information only identifies some of the regulatory requirements and that there are no “written instructions to show manufacturer's how to meet those requirements.” Furthermore, the OIG found that the RMD does not take steps to verify the completion rates of recall work despite having the authority to do so. Currently manufacturers “obtain completion rate data from their dealerships. The manufacturers’ employees then manually input the data into RMD’s online recall reporting tool. One company official said that this manual process has resulted in reporting errors.” The OIG offered two recommendations to NHTSA to improve manufacturer reporting so that they receive more accurate and complete information. One, that NHTSA “develop, implement, and document management controls, including a supervisory review process, for monitoring recall remedies, scope, and risk reporting and oversight of recall implementation,” and two, that they “update the recall reporting portal and issue written guidance to identify all recall scope, risk, and completion rate information that regulations require manufacturers to submit.
The OIG’s report also indicates that the ODI lacks a way to monitor manufacturer reporting of recall remedies, scopes and risk information. Their processes are “incomplete, as they do not include management controls to ensure compliance with the specific regulatory reporting requirements.” The report also found that the (RMD) does not adequately assess the scope of recalls involving non- compliant or defective equipment. The ODI and RMD also do not have protocol in place to assess the completion of recall communications from manufacturers as the ODI’s process of monitoring “is too narrow to ensure that manufacturers report recall remedies completely and timely.” Finally, the audit found that the staff of the ODI and RMD lack sufficient understanding of what is required of them in terms of recall monitoring and oversight. While RMD policy states that an engineer must review the manufacturers’ technical remedy instructions for high and medium priority recalls, the RMD did not document the engineers’ technical reviews in its official records. Instead, the engineers kept informal records of this work.” This lack of formal documentation lead to NHTSA being unable to verify that the Vehicle Defects Division, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance, and RMD staff conducted appropriate technical reviews for 1,381 recalls, and that further action was not required. For these issues the OIG issued three recommendations. One, That NHTSA “develop and implement a risk-based process to monitor manufacturers’ reporting of recall remedy, scope, and risk information,” Two, that NHTSA “develop and implement a risk-based process—with specific timelines— that provides guidance for Office of Defects Investigation staff on identifying recalls with missing communications,” and three, that NHTSA “develop a training curriculum on staff responsibilities for updated recall monitoring and oversight processes.”
Overall, the Office of the Inspector General found that NHTSA’s management of light passenger vehicle recalls was lacking in several very important categories. NHTSA’s ODI and RMD do not employ adequate processes to ensure the proper reporting of recall scope and remedies, nor the completion of recalls, while their staff lacks proper training and understanding of their responsibilities. This leads to them having incomplete information and documentation of many large aspects of the recall process, making their overall approach to recall management inadequate. The gaps indicated by the OIG’s report highlight the need for manufacturers’ to be proactive and more self reliant when it comes to safety, and recall processes. This is no easy task given the sometimes confusing regulatory requirements of NHTSA. Kinetic Metrics has years of experience and expertise in NHTSA’s Processes and employs unique methods to assist manufacturers’ with this challenge. To read the full OIG report please go to https://www.oig.dot.gov/library-item/36626.
After three years in business, Kinetic Metrics has implemented a few updates to the website. That's all. Same great company. A cleaner, more focused website with more frequent blog posts to come. Happy Spring!
Last week the Kinetic Metrics team traveled overseas to meet with its partner IDIADA in a collaboration to present a US Safety Compliance Seminar. Our experts reviewed several topics, including Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS), the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) process, EPA/CAFE standards and current issues in the US market today. It is important for foreign automakers to fully understand the requirements of the Federal Government as well as the needs of US consumers.
The compliance seminars are set up to not only educate but create a discussion amongst colleagues. We examined the importance of safety compliance and the communication necessary to build a successful product. The seminars that KM can provide may also be catered to specific products and issues at hand. In addition to the seminars KM can also assist a new automaker with all the required submissions (recall, EWR, etc.).
In our continuing efforts to assist emerging overseas markets we plan to continue our outreach and are available for seminars and similar discussions with clients. Please contact us now for more information.