What is the NHTSA Whistleblower Program?

April 27, 2023

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is a federal agency responsible for ensuring the safety of vehicles and roadways in the United States. The agency was established in 1970 and is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The NHTSA Whistleblower Program was created to encourage individuals to report safety violations and concerns related to the automotive industry. The program offers several dimensions of protection to qualified individuals who come forward with information about safety-related violations, including confidentiality and protection from retaliation.

NHTSA whistleblower attorney program

What Is the NHTSA Whistleblower Reward?

One key feature of the NHTSA Whistleblower Program is the potential for monetary rewards for whistleblowers who provide information that leads to successful enforcement actions resulting in monetary recoveries by the agency. The amount of the reward can range from 10-30% of the monetary sanctions recovered by the government if over $1,000,000.

The Vehicle Safety Act protects the confidentiality of whistleblowers and allows the NHTSA to pay a monetary award to a whistleblower whose information leads to the successful resolution of an enforcement action for violations of law. The program offers protection to employees of auto manufacturers, suppliers, and dealerships who have information about safety-related defects or violations.

Can I Remain Anonymous While Becoming an NHTSA Whistleblower?

While anonymity is not always 100% guaranteed, the NHTSA is one of the few statutes which has a default that completely shields the identity of the whistleblower. However, at the discretion of the NHTSA, they may ask the whistleblower to waive their confidentiality.

NHTSA Whistleblower Settlements

Several successful examples of the NHTSA Whistleblower Program have resulted in significant safety improvements in the automotive industry. For example, in the Takata airbag case, the whistleblower who reported safety concerns related to the company’s airbags received a monetary reward for providing information that led to a successful enforcement action resulting in a monetary recovery by the agency.

In the General Motors (GM) case, the whistleblower who reported safety defects related to faulty ignition switches received a monetary reward as part of the $900 million settlement between GM and the Department of Justice. In the Toyota unintended acceleration case, the whistleblower who reported safety concerns related to unintended acceleration received a $1.7 million whistleblower reward from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The reward was part of a larger settlement between Toyota and the SEC related to the company’s failure to disclose safety issues to investors, so it’s important to examine the interplay between an NHTSA whistleblower action and an NHTSA whistleblower action. 

The NHTSA Whistleblower Program is an essential tool in ensuring the safety of vehicles and roadways in the United States. The program encourages individuals to report safety violations and concerns to the agency without fear of retaliation. Successful cases involving the program have led to major auto safety recalls and enforcement actions. The Motor Vehicle Safety Act provides the legal framework for the program and establishes safety standards for vehicles and roadways in the United States.

The Motor Vehicle Safety Act

Under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, the NHTSA has the authority to investigate and enforce safety-related violations and defects. Auto manufacturers are required to report safety-related defects to the NHTSA within five days of discovery. Failure to do so can result in fines and other penalties.

The Act also requires manufacturers to notify consumers of safety-related defects and to provide free repairs for affected vehicles. This ensures that consumers are aware of potential safety issues with their vehicles and can have them fixed free of charge.

The NHTSA Whistleblower Program plays an important role in holding auto manufacturers accountable for safety violations and defects. By providing protections for whistleblowers and offering monetary incentives for information that leads to successful enforcement actions, the program encourages individuals to come forward with information that can help protect the public from unsafe vehicles and roadways.

Other Whistleblower Programs 

In addition to the NHTSA Whistleblower Program, there are other whistleblower programs that can provide similar protections and incentives for individuals who report safety violations and concerns. For example, the SEC Whistleblower Program offers monetary rewards to individuals who provide information about securities law violations that result in successful enforcement actions.  With the use of an SEC whistleblower attorney, like the NHTSA, the whistleblower has a chance to stay anonymous from start to finish.  

Protecting Whistleblowers and Preventing Retaliation

Overall, whistleblower programs are an important tool in promoting transparency and accountability in various industries. By encouraging individuals to come forward with information about potential violations, these programs can help prevent harm to the public and promote a culture of accountability within organizations. However, it is important to ensure that individuals who choose to blow the whistle are protected from retaliation and are incentivized to report potential violations.

In attacking any problem it’s best to consult with an entity that has subject matter experience and pardon the transportation pun, is not trying to reinvent the wheel without the requisite experience.  If you’re considering blowing the whistle on a safety issue that affects the national infrastructure or any other matter you should avail yourself of a free, confidential consultation with one of the best whistleblower law firms. You should look for an NHTSA whistleblower law firm  – a firm that has experience in representing whistleblowers, a track record of success and a focus of their practice on protecting whistleblowers.