The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s whistleblower program promotes reporting vehicle safety violations. According to the NHTSA website, whistleblowers help correct serious vehicle safety issues.
Employees reporting companies that fail to comply with vehicle safety requirements often help launch a federal investigation. Officials may file civil penalties against a company that allows a safety defect to reach car buyers.
Types of violations reported
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards require car companies to design and manufacture safe vehicles. FMVSS regulations include three safety categories: crashworthiness, crash avoidance and post-crash survivability.
The NHTSA encourages employees to report defects or design flaws that could cause unsafe vehicle operations. A faulty airbag design, for example, could result in motorists or passengers dying in a crash. Vehicle manufacturers must test for safety issues and fix them before their cars leave the factory.
Whistleblower protection and rewards
Whistleblowers’ identities remain confidential when they report their employers’ violations. The Vehicle Safety Act forbids companies from retaliating against employees who report safety issues. Firing an employee who submitted a report could violate federal labor laws.
The NHTSA offers whistleblowers financial awards for information that leads to penalties. As reported by the Detroit Free Press, the agency awarded more than $24 million to a former vehicle company engineer. His report detailing a serious engine defect brought results. It enabled individuals who purchased the vehicles to receive compensation for repairs.
Vehicle manufacturers violating federal safety laws could cause injuries and death. Whistleblowers help save lives and correct defects. They also receive legal protection. In certain cases, they may receive rewards ranging between 10% and 30% of the sanctions collected.