Snitching for Safety: OEM whistleblowers protected, rewarded in new NHTSA rules proposal

Toronto, Ontario — In an effort to incentivize safety and good faith among automakers, the U.S.’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) put forth a set of rules last Wednesday that aim to protect and reward OEM whistleblowers.

This proposed rulemaking on the part of the NHTSA intends to outline more concrete implementations of the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act, which was first enacted in 2015 under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.

“The Whistleblower Act authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to pay an award, subject to certain limitations, to eligible whistleblowers who voluntarily provide original information relating to any motor vehicle defect, noncompliance, or any violation or alleged violation of any notification or reporting requirement, which is likely to cause unreasonable risk of death or serious physical injury, if the information provided leads to the successful resolution of a covered action,” reads an excerpt from the proposal.

In a statement provided to Repairer Driven News, the NHTSA said “The information NHTSA has learned from whistleblowers has helped the Agency identify and investigate safety issues and violations of law. In one instance, a whistleblower’s critical assistance to the Agency resulted in two consent orders with civil penalties totaling $210 million. In 2021, NHTSA granted the whistleblower the maximum award authorized under statute for the significant contributions leading to that enforcement action.”

Under certain conditions, whistleblowers could be eligible to receive in excess of $1 million in “discretionary” awards if their tip results in “recoveries of monetary sanctions”.

Click here to view the NHTSA’s full proposal of rules for the Motor Safety Whistleblower Act.


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