We all know that vehicle safety issues can affect those who drive an unsafe vehicle as well as anyone sharing the road with them. Vehicle safety issues can range from a defective part in a car that a manufacturer hasn’t made public — let alone recalled — to a commercial truck that is allowed to stay on the road without proper maintenance.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a whistleblower program that helps protect and even provides monetary awards to those who report information to the federal agency regarding safety concerns, potential vehicle or parts defects and noncompliance with federal safety laws and standards. The award to a whistleblower whose information leads to a successful enforcement action can get anywhere from 10% to 30% of monetary sanctions over $1 million that are collected.
Like other whistleblower programs, the NHTSA program protects those who report safety concerns that they learn about in the course of their job from employer retaliation. These employers can include vehicle parts manufacturers, trucking companies, car dealerships and more.
A new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
Now NHTSA is taking steps to help more people learn about its program and make it easier for whistleblowers to confidentially report issues without fear. The agency has recently launched a new website for its whistleblower program. It’s also formalizing the program with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM).
While the NPRM is still in progress, whistleblowers can and should report safety concerns to the agency. The protections and reward system are already in place. As NHTSA’s acting administrator says, “Whistleblowers play a critical role in safeguarding our nation’s roadways, and we will do everything in our power to protect them.”
It’s always best to have experienced legal guidance when you take the step of becoming a whistleblower. This can help you protect your rights and obtain any monetary awards to which you’re entitled under the law.