United States: Top Legal Issues Facing Automotive Suppliers In 2014 - NHTSA And Automotive Safety

Executive Summary

We expect 2014 to be a busy year in the area of NHTSA rulemaking and enforcement. The agency is set to push forward on a number of fronts, including: 1) development of policy and rulemaking in the areas of advanced crash avoidance technologies, autonomous vehicles, and driver distraction, and 2) implementing recently adopted enhancements to its recall processes. Moreover, we expect the agency to continue its aggressive enforcement posture, buoyed by the recent doubling of the statutory civil penalty maximum. As a consequence, manufacturers are urged to review and update (or adopt) safety compliance policies to help reduce their compliance risk. Manufacturers are encouraged to implement regulatory monitoring programs to ensure they are up-to-date on the latest agency regulatory and enforcement activities.

We expect to see significant activity in the areas of driverless/autonomous vehicles and crash avoidance technologies, distracted driving, enhancements to recall processes, and aggressive enforcement.


Over the last several years, NHTSA has been carefully studying the safety benefits of various advanced crash avoidance. The agency has been particularly focused on warning technologies, such as blind spot detection and advanced lighting; intervention technologies, such as lane departure prevention, crash imminent braking (CIB), and dynamic brake support (DBS); and automatic pedestrian detection and braking. Agency research has been focused on light vehicles (passenger cars and light trucks) and heavy-duty trucks and buses.

The agency has also been studying vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications as a way to improve the effectiveness and availability of these safety systems. The agency will assess the research data, technologies, and potential countermeasures and is expected to decide on next steps during the next year. If cost-justified, the agency could propose to require that vehicles be equipped with one or more of these technologies.

NHTSA also has been actively researching autonomous vehicles in an effort to position itself to regulate them if (when) they become commercially available. The agency will continue to devote substantial resources in this area during the next year and beyond.

Suppliers should be following these developments closely. Those that may be impacted by the adoption of safety standards in any of the above areas must be prepared to comment on agency proposals and to meet with NHTSA staff to share their views. In fact, manufacturers need not wait for a proposal before providing input, as the agency would welcome prerulemaking (research stage) input from manufacturers.


In April 2013, NHTSA adopted the first phase of its three-phase federal guidelines intended to address driver distraction from in-vehicle electronics. The first phase applies to original equipment in-vehicle electronic devices used by the driver to perform secondary tasks (e.g., communications, entertainment, information gathering, navigation tasks, etc.) through visual manual means. During 2014 and beyond, we expect the agency to proceed with its planned subsequent phases, which will cover: 1) portable and aftermarket devices and 2) auditory-vocal interfaces. Although these are "voluntary" federal guidelines, they are expected to strongly influence the design and performance of such systems in future model years. Therefore, suppliers whose products could be impacted should monitor the agency's activities in this area and be prepared to comment on any proposals.


The next year will also bring enhancements to NHTSA's recall processes and procedures, which are contained in an August 20, 2013 final rule. Some of these were mandated by Congress in the MAP-21 amendments to the Safety Act, and others were prompted by NHTSA's review of its recall management processes. Upcoming changes include:

  • Electronic submission of all defect/noncompliance notifications through a NHTSA-operated web-based portal. This should significantly streamline the NHTSA review process and expedite public dissemination of recall information by the agency.
  • All larger-volume vehicle manufacturers — 25,000 or more per year for light vehicles and 5,000 or more per year for motorcycles — must provide a VIN-lookup tool on their websites (or on a third-party website) to enable consumers to determine the recall status of their vehicles.
  • Updates to defect notice and owner letter content and new markings on envelopes used for owner notifications.


NHTSA has been aggressively enforcing its recall regulations these past few years and we expect this to continue. Effective July 2013, the statutory civil penalty maximum for violating NHTSA's recall regulations has doubled to $35 million. The agency has asserted the previous maximum penalty at least five times since 2010 (from $16,375,000 to $17,350,000, depending upon the year).

Since 2010, NHTSA settled allegations of untimely recalls at least eight times, imposing the maximum penalty against Toyota four times and Ford once, and settling for less than the maximum, but still in substantial amounts, with Volvo, BMW, and Prevost ($1.5 million, $3 million, and $1.5 million, respectively).

To reduce compliance risks, all vehicle and parts manufacturers should have in place safety compliance policies that provide internal guidance to company personnel for identifying and investigating potential safety defects or noncompliances, and for complying with all associated NHTSA reporting requirements (e.g., safety recall reporting, early warning reporting, and monthly submission of certain communications sent to two or more customers, manufacturers, dealers, and distributors). It is also critical that relevant personnel are trained to the policy.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions