Yubanet.com is reporting that The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") has been sued by Quality Control Systems Corp. concerning NHTSA's denial of access to Early Warning Reports ("EWR") collected under the Transportation Recall Enhancement Accountability and Documentation ("TREAD") Act.
The TREAD Act was passed in October 2000. Among other things, TREAD mandated NHTSA to create regulations governing quarterly EWRs -- information on property damage and warranty claims, consumer, dealer and field reports, production numbers and deaths and injuries collected by manufacturers -- so that the data could be used to spot defect trends.
Quality Control Systems has been seeking Ford's EWR death and injury data on Explorers to better analyze the rise in tire-related Explorer fatalities. NHTSA has withheld nearly all of this data with the
The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) insisting that the TREAD Act specifically exempted EWR data from public view under Exemption 3 of the Freedom of Information Act. NHTSA has stated that, at the urging of manufacturers, EWR information should be kept confidential under Exemption 4.
Previously, Public Citizen sued the Department of Transportation over the confidentiality of EWR data. That suit led the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to revisit its rule granting broad confidentiality to manufacturers. Additionally, the Court later found that EWR data was not covered by Exemption 3 of the FOIA, a decision which is on appeal, NHTSA has refused to release any of the data until RMA's appeal is resolved--resulting in the latest lawsuit.