WASHINGTON—The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is proposing new procedures for assessing civil penalties against tire, auto and auto parts makers found in violation of federal safety regulations.
NHTSA also wants to establish new guidelines for interpreting the factors in determining the amount of a civil penalty or compromise decision, according to a notice published Sept. 21 in the Federal Register.
The purpose of the proposed rule is to bring NHTSA civil penalty procedures in line with those established in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act passed by Congress in 2012, the notice said.
“NHTSA is also proposing to update our regulations to conform it to the statutory civil penalty maximums enacted in MAP-21, the increased penalties and damages for odometer fraud, and the statutory penalty for knowingly and willfully submitting materially false or misleading information,” the notice said.
In the notice, NHTSA quoted the language in MAP-21: “In determining the amount of a civil penalty or compromise under this section, the Secretary of Transportation shall consider the nature, circumstances, extent and gravity of the violation.”
Before setting the fine, the document said, NHTSA would be required to consider several relevant factors, including the nature of the violation, the severity of the risk or injury, the actions the violator took to correct the violation, the nature of the defect or noncompliance, and the size of the company.
NHTSA has always taken the size of the company into consideration in setting fines, the agency said.
“With respect to civil penalties involving small businesses, among the factors that have been considered are the violator's ability to pay, including its ability to pay over time, and any effect on the violator's ability to continue to do business,” it said.
NHTSA is accepting comments on the proposal until Nov. 20. The Federal Register notice can be found here.