At a congressional hearing on Tuesday, David Freidman, acting administrator of NHTSA, told a House subcommittee that his agency was "engaged and concerned" about the injury crash complaints it received and tried to figure out why the airbags did not deploy. But he said the Chevy Cobalt "did not stand out," so an investigation was never started.
Freidman said the agency's response would have been different if the automakers had provided information sooner. And he told lawmakers that NHTSA is already making changes that will allow it to spot dangerous defects more quickly.
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Members of Congress have already proposed legislation to improve federal oversight.
The Early Warning Reporting System Improvement Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., would require vehicle and equipment manufacturers to submit any reports that first alert them to a fatal accident involving their vehicle or equipment.
The bill would also require NHTSA to make this information publicly available in a searchable, user-friendly format. This would make it easier for car owners and independent safety experts to evaluate potential safety defects themselves.
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