The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is hopeful that a new endeavor will help improve the overall safety of US roadways by making rules clearer and easier to follow. The agency introduced a Compliance Assistance Program (CAP) in March of this year to help regulated entities, including commercial vehicles and equipment companies, conform to federal safety rules.
CAP, which targets dealers, equipment manufacturers, and vehicle and trailer manufacturers, allows these parties to sell only new equipment and vehicles that meet the requirements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). The FMVSS are federal regulations that provide guidelines for the design, construction, and operation of motor vehicles. These regulations are enforced by the NHTSA under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966. The NHTSA is responsible for testing vehicle parts, such as airbags, brakes, child seats, headlights and seat belts, to determine whether they are compatible with FMVSS regulations.
Under the new program, the NHTSA will provide a number of services to assist manufacturers in complying with rules of the road. In addition to acting as an enforcement body, the NHTSA has positioned itself to act as an informal resource for all types of manufacturers, including new or smaller entities, to help them develop safer vehicles and equipment. To this end, manufacturers will have the opportunity to communicate directly about issues related to equipment or vehicles. The NHTSA will also be available as a resource to offer tools, education and advice to manufacturers. In addition, legal issues affecting manufacturers will be addressed and handled by the NHTSA Office of the Chief Counsel.
Manufacturers are advised to contact the NHTSA with compliance questions through its website. The NHTSA is committed to responding in a timely and direct manner to all inquiries and guiding parties to resources that may be helpful in meeting the standards under federal law. The NHTSA intends to continue to develop a user-friendly website devoted to helping manufacturers understand federal safety regulations.
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