[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 15 (Monday, January 25, 2016)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 4007-4010]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-01291]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Part 577

[Docket No. NHTSA-2016-0001]
RIN 2127-AL66


Update Means of Providing Notification; Improving Efficacy of 
Recalls

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 
Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM).

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) 
authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to amend, by regulation, the 
means of notification required under the Safety Act, to be in a manner 
other than, or in addition to, first-class mail. Furthermore, Section 
24104 of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) 
expounds on the need to update the means of notification by requiring 
the Agency to include notification by electronic means in addition to 
first class mail notification, within 270 days of its enactment. MAP-21 
also authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to improve the efficacy 
of recalls by requiring manufacturers to send additional notifications 
of defects or noncompliance if a second notification by the 
manufacturer does not result in an adequate number of motor vehicles or 
replacement equipment being returned for remedy.
    NHTSA seeks public comment on the means, in addition to first class 
mail, of providing notification to owners, purchasers, and dealers, by 
a manufacturer of a motor vehicle or replacement equipment, that the 
vehicle or equipment contains a defect related to motor vehicle safety 
or does not comply with an applicable motor vehicle safety standard. As 
a result of this ANPRM, the Agency anticipates receiving information 
that will aid the Agency in developing a rule implementing the 
notification requirements under MAP-21 and the FAST Act. The Agency 
anticipates that comments and information received will aid in updating 
the Agency's regulations.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before March 10, 2016.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any of the following methods:
     Internet: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the 
online instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail: Docket Management Facility, M-30, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building, Room W12-
140, Washington, DC 20590.
     Hand Delivery or Courier: U.S. Department of 
Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building, Room W12-
140, Washington, DC 20590 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern Time, 
Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
     Facsimile: (202) 493-2251.
    Regardless of how you submit your comments, please mention the 
docket number of this document.
    You may also call the Docket at (202) 366-9322.
    Instructions: For detailed instructions on submitting comments and 
additional information on the rulemaking process, see the Public 
Participation heading in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this 
notice. Note that all comments received will be posted without change 
to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information 
provided. Please see the Privacy Act heading under the Public 
Participation heading in the Supplementary Information section below 
for more information.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For substantive issues: Jennifer 
Timian, Office of Defects Investigation, National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration, at (202) 366-4000. For legal issues: Justine 
Casselle, Office of the Chief Counsel, National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration, at (202) 366-2992.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Executive Summary
II. Notification Requirements Before and After MAP-21
    A. Means of Notification
    B. Additional Notifications
III. Public Participation
    A. Means and Methods of Notification
    B. General Owner Knowledge and Behavior/Availability of 
Information to Owners
    C. Privacy Act
IV. Rulemaking Analyses and Notices
V. Submission of Comments

I. Executive Summary

    The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) 
authorizes the Agency to amend, through rulemaking, the means of 
providing notification to owners, purchasers, and dealers, by a 
manufacturer of a motor vehicle or replacement equipment, that the 
vehicle or equipment contains a defect related to motor vehicle safety 
or does not comply with an applicable federal motor vehicle safety 
standard. MAP-21 also authorizes NHTSA to improve recall effectiveness 
by requiring manufacturers to send additional notifications of defects 
or noncompliance if a second notification by the manufacturer does not 
result in an adequate number of motor vehicles or replacement equipment 
being returned for remedy. Finally, MAP-21 authorizes NHTSA to permit 
``public notice'' in addition to individualized notification. More 
recently, Section 24104 of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation 
Act (FAST Act) requires the Agency to amend the means of notification 
to owners by including electronic notification in addition to first 
class mail notification.

[[Page 4008]]

    Much has changed in the ways and means by which manufacturers 
communicate with their customers and influence behavior since the 
1970's when U.S. law first required manufacturers to notify owners in 
the event of a safety recall. Hard copy mail has become far less 
prominent in the wake of virtually instantaneous electronic message 
such as email and text messaging, in addition to heavy use of social 
media. First class mail does not inform as to whether an owner actually 
received the mail, let alone whether they read it and understood it, 
whereas electronic messaging technologies are capable of confirming 
whether the message at least was delivered to the address given. This 
ANPRM seeks comments and supporting information on the specific means 
and methods of notification that manufacturers use, and those that 
manufacturers consider are most effective, to reach their owners and 
purchasers as well as motivate them to have safety recalls completed. 
We seek to learn and obtain opinion on what methods should be required 
of manufacturers, as well as what methods are viable as alternatives in 
the event a recall campaign does not meet expectations and/or the 
Agency believes a public notification as contemplated by the statute is 
appropriate. This is all in an effort to leverage the new authorities 
NHTSA has been given to most efficiently and effectively improve safety 
recall completion rates. NHTSA will use the comments and supporting 
information submitted in response to this ANPRM to inform its 
development of a regulatory proposal that would allow notification of 
safety related recalls to be issued by means other than, or in addition 
to, first-class mail.

II. Notification Requirements Before and After MAP-21

A. Means of Notification

    49 U.S.C. 30118(c) requires motor vehicle manufacturers or 
manufacturers of replacement equipment to ``notify . . . the owners, 
purchasers, and dealers of vehicle or equipment as provided in section 
30119(d) of this section, if the manufacturer:
    1. Learns the vehicle or equipment contains a defect and decides in 
good faith that the defect is related to motor vehicle safety; or
    2. Decides in good faith that the vehicle or equipment does not 
comply with an applicable motor vehicle safety standard prescribed 
under this chapter.

The manner by which this required notice would be given to owners or 
purchasers of vehicles or equipment is governed by 49 U.S.C. 30119(d). 
Prior to MAP-21, and for vehicle recalls, section 30119(d) required 
notice is to be sent via first-class mail to the registered owner, or 
if the registered owner could not be identified, to the most recent 
purchaser known to the manufacturer. 49 U.S.C. 30119(d)(1)(A)-(B). For 
recalls of replacement equipment, the statute required notification to 
the most recent purchaser. Id.
    Section 31310 of MAP-21 amended the notice provisions in 49 U.S.C. 
30119(d) to allow the Secretary of Transportation, and by delegation 
NHTSA's Administrator, the flexibility to determine the manner by which 
notifications about safety recalls under 49 U.S.C. 30118 must be sent. 
The statute requires notification to be sent to each registered owner 
whose name and address is reasonably ascertainable through State 
records or other available sources, or the most recent purchaser known 
to the manufacturer. 49 U.S.C. 30119(d)(1)(A)-(B). Manufacturers are 
also required to notify dealers under the statute. 49 U.S.C. 
30119(d)(4). The amended statutory language authorizes the Agency to 
engage in a rulemaking to permit notification of vehicle defects and 
noncompliance by means other than first-class mail, such as electronic 
notification. Recently, the FAST Act expounds on this authority by 
expressly requiring the Agency to amend, by rulemaking, the means of 
notification to include electronic notification.

B. Additional Notifications

    Not only did Section 31310 address the means of providing 
notification, both on an individualized basis and on a more broad-based 
level, but it also addressed improving the efficacy of recalls through 
additional notifications. Previously, 49 U.S.C. 30119(e) authorized the 
Secretary to order a second notification if the Secretary determined 
that the first notification failed to result in an adequate number of 
motor vehicles or items of replacement equipment being returned for 
remedy. The statute was silent, however, as to whether additional 
notifications beyond a second notification could be required. Section 
31310 resolves this question by amending 49 U.S.C. 30119(e), which now, 
under 49 U.S.C. 30119(e)(2)(A)(i), authorizes the Secretary to order 
additional notifications if the Secretary determines that a second 
notification also failed to result in an adequate number of motor 
vehicles or items of replacement equipment being returned for remedy.
    Like the notifications addressed above, the means of additional 
notifications is to be in a ``manner prescribed by the Secretary, by 
regulation.'' 49 U.S.C. 30119(e)(2)(A)(i). This language anticipates 
the Agency will engage in rulemaking to contemplate and permit, if not 
order where warranted, notification of motor vehicle and equipment 
defects and failures to comply by means other than first-class mail.

III. Public Participation

    NHTSA invites comments and information on how the agency can best 
leverage the new flexibilities it has been given under MAP-21 and the 
FAST Act to update the required means manufacturers use, whether as a 
first notification or as a follow-up notification, to successfully 
notify their owners and purchasers and urge them toward seeking the 
free remedies they are offered. As a general matter, the Agency 
requests that commenters provide as much research, evidence, or data as 
possible to support their comments, including cost-benefit information, 
as that information will be of great assistance to the Agency as it 
moves forward in the development of a proposed rule. The questions 
below are intended to focus, but not limit, the information and 
opinions commenters offer. Commenters are encouraged to offer any 
suggestions or tactics that may not have been expressly mentioned in 
this notice.

A. Means and Methods of Notification

    (1) How effective has traditional first class mail been at reaching 
owners? What is the estimated delivery rate for vehicle recalls where 
registered owner information from state agencies and the U.S. 
territories are available? What is the estimated delivery rate for 
equipment recalls where these information sources are not available? 
How many owners are equipment manufacturers able to notify using 
traditional first class mail?
    (2) Other than by first class mail, in what ways can and do 
manufacturers notify owners about safety recalls? How do, or should, 
those means and methods change dependent upon the product being sold or 
how it was sold (e.g., vehicles as opposed to replacement equipment, or 
online sales as opposed to brick and mortar retail shops)? What are the 
respective rates of delivery success for these methods? What 
information or technology is available and used to calculate these 
rates of delivery?
    (3) What are the corresponding rates of remedy completion for these 
methods discussed in your response to paragraph (2) above?

[[Page 4009]]

    (4) What sales and marketing methods and techniques could be 
employed for safety recall communications? Which have shown the most 
success in terms of owners understanding and owner recall completion, 
which have shown the least, and why? What information or technology is 
available and used to calculate these findings and how do manufacturers 
determine if these methods motivated the recall completion as opposed 
to the recall completion being motivated by other tools such as first 
class mailings?
    (5) If manufacturers communicate with owners through email, text 
messaging, smart phone applications, or other electronic means, which 
method of communication do manufacturers find most effective at 
reaching owners? Which method of communication do owners prefer? Are 
there best practices as to when and how these communications are 
applied and when they are not? Are there certain demographics that seem 
to respond less or more to certain types of electronic communications?
    (6) Are manufacturers using social media to inform owners of safety 
recalls and influence owners' behavior to have recalls work completed? 
What media is being used and which have been the most or least 
effective in terms of ``click-throughs'' or other methods for tracking 
owner attention? Are there certain demographics that seem to respond 
less or more to social media generally and/or specific types of social 
media? Are there best practices as to when and how these communications 
are applied and when they are not?
    (7) Are there any legal or other limitations of which the Agency 
should be aware in contemplating any of the alternatives noted above or 
mentioned in your comments?
    (8) Do manufacturers currently have access to owners' email 
addresses? Excluding collecting emails at point of sale, from where do 
manufacturers collect this information and how do they determine its 
``freshness'' or accuracy? Should owners be required to provide an 
email address as part of a purchase or service transaction? Should the 
answer depend on how and where the product was purchased, the purchase 
price of the product, or some other factor? Why or why not?
    (9) What contingencies do manufacturers have in place to avoid spam 
filters or to indicate that an email relates to a safety recall 
explicitly? What assurances are, or could be, put in place to confirm 
that an email was (a) received and (b) opened?
    (10) The purpose of 49 CFR part 577 is ``to ensure that 
notifications of defects or noncompliances adequately inform and 
effectively motivate owners of potentially defective or noncomplying 
motor vehicles or items of replacement equipment to have such vehicles 
or equipment inspected and, where necessary, remedied as quickly as 
possible.'' Does notification by means other than first-class mail and 
email carry out this purpose? What about text alerts, social media 
campaigns, and other less traditional methods?

B. General Owner Knowledge and Behavior/Availability of Information to 
Owners

    (1) Do owners read and understand the information they are 
currently receiving from required safety recall notices delivered via 
first class mail? What data or research supports your response?
    (2) Is there data identifying why owners do not react to safety 
recall notices they receive from their manufacturers? What does that 
data suggest would increase owner behavior toward recall completion? Is 
there data indicating whether an increase in owners recall completion 
is more likely to occur in the presence of cash incentives, service 
offers, or other means? Is there data indicating otherwise?
    (3) What recall information do owners want and how do they want it 
expressed? Are there particular words or phrases? Are their particular 
formats or graphics that align more with recall completion? If any 
focus group studies have been conducted by manufacturers or other 
organizations regarding owners' needs in this area, should the Agency 
use them to aid in assessing how to meet those needs?
    (4) Should the Agency engage in its own behavior study including, 
but not limited to, surveys, polls, and focus groups? If so, what 
questions should be asked? What strategies used? How large of a survey 
or poll should be conducted?

C. Privacy Act

    Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all comments 
received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual 
submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf 
of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review DOT's 
complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published on 
April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477-78).

IV. Rulemaking Analyses and Notices

Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 and DOT Regulatory Policies and 
Procedures

    This rulemaking document was not reviewed under Executive Order 
12866 or Executive Order 13563. NHTSA has considered the impact of this 
ANPRM under the Department of Transportation's regulatory policies and 
procedures. This ANPRM seeks comments and supporting information on how 
the Agency can best update the means of notifying owners, purchasers, 
and dealers of recalls in an effort to improve vehicle safety recall 
completion rates. Because this rulemaking only seeks comments and 
information to aid in the Agency's development of a proposed rule, the 
impact of this ANPRM is limited. Therefore, this rulemaking has been 
determined to be not ``significant'' under the Department of 
Transportation's regulatory policies and procedures and the policies of 
the Office of Management and Budget.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    As this Notice is an ANPRM, we are not proposing to adopt any new 
information collection or record keeping requirements. If, after 
considering the public comments received in response to this notice 
NHTSA decides to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking that includes 
information collection or record keeping requirements, that notice will 
discuss any new paperwork burden associated with those proposed 
requirements.

Regulatory Identifier Number (RIN)

    The Department of Transportation assigns a regulation identifier 
number (RIN) to each regulatory action listed in the Unified Agenda of 
Federal Regulations. The Regulatory Information Service Center 
publishes the Unified Agenda in April and October of each year. You may 
use the RIN contained in the heading at the beginning of this document 
to find this action in the Unified Agenda.

V. Submission of Comments

How can I influence NHTSA's thinking on this rulemaking?

    Your comments will help us improve this proposed rulemaking. We 
invite you to provide different views on options we discuss, new 
approaches we have not considered, new data, descriptions of how this 
ANPRM may affect you, or other relevant information. We welcome your 
views on all aspects of this ANPRM, but request comments on specific 
issues throughout this document. Your comments will be most

[[Page 4010]]

effective if you follow the suggestions below:
     Explain your views and reasoning as clearly as possible.
     Provide solid evidence and data to support your views.
     If you estimate potential costs, explain how you arrived 
at that estimate.
     Tell us which parts of the ANPRM you support, as well as 
those with which you disagree.
     Provide specific examples to illustrate your concerns.
     Offer specific alternatives.
     Refer your comments to the specific sections of the ANPRM.
    Your comments must be written in English. To ensure that your 
comments are correctly filed in the docket, please include the docket 
number of this document in your comments.
    Your comments must not be more than 15 pages long. 49 CFR 553.21. 
We established this limit to encourage you to write your primary 
comments in a concise fashion. However, you may attach necessary 
additional documents to your comments. There is no limit on the length 
of the attachments.
    Please submit your comments to the docket electronically by logging 
onto http://www.regulations.gov or by the means given in the ADDRESSES 
section at the beginning of this document. Please note that pursuant to 
the Data Quality Act, in order for substantive data to be relied upon 
and used by the agency, it must meet the information quality standards 
set forth in the OMB and DOT Data Quality Act guidelines. Accordingly, 
we encourage you to consult the guidelines in preparing your comments. 
OMB's guidelines may be accessed at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/fedreg/reproducible.html.

How do I submit confidential business information?

    If you wish to submit any information under a claim of 
confidentiality, you should submit three copies of your complete 
submission, including the information you claim to be confidential 
business information, to the Chief Counsel, NHTSA, at the address given 
in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. In addition, you should 
submit a copy from which you have deleted the claimed confidential 
business information to the docket. When you send a comment containing 
information claimed to be confidential business information, you should 
include a cover letter setting forth the information specified in our 
confidential business information regulations. 49 CFR part 512.

Will the agency consider late comments?

    We will consider all comments that the docket receives before the 
close of business on the comment closing date indicated in the DATES 
section. To the extent possible, we will also consider comments that 
the docket receives after that date. If the docket receives a comment 
too late for us to consider it in developing the next step in this 
rulemaking, we will consider that comment as an informal suggestion for 
future rulemaking action.

How can I read the comments submitted by other people?

    You may read the comments received by the docket at the address 
given in the ADDRESSES section. You may also see the comments on the 
Internet (http://regulations.gov). Please note that even after the 
comment closing date, we will continue to file relevant information in 
the docket as it becomes available. Further, some people may submit 
late comments. Accordingly, we recommend that you periodically check 
the docket for new material. Anyone is able to search the electronic 
form of all comments name of the individual submitting the comment (or 
signing the comment, if submitted on behalf of an association, 
business, labor union, etc.). You may review DOT's complete Privacy Act 
Statement in the Federal Register published on April 11, 2000 (65 FR 
19476 at 19477-78).

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30102, 30103, 30116-30121, 30166; 
delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.95 and 49 CFR 501.8.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on January 14, 2016 under authority 
delegated pursuant to 49 CFR 1.95.
Frank S. Borris II,
Acting Associate Administrator for Enforcement.
[FR Doc. 2016-01291 Filed 1-22-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P