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NHTSA Proposes Ways to Ensure Active Public Participation in Development of Global Motor Vehicle Safety Standards

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

NHTSA Proposes Ways to Ensure Active Public Participation in Development of Global Motor Vehicle Safety Standards

June 22, 1998

NHTSA 32-98
June 22, 1998
Contact: Tim Hurd
Tel. No. (202) 366-9550

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today laid out its plan to ensure effective public participation at the earliest stage in the consideration of global motor vehicle safety regulations.

An agreement on global technical regulations is expected to be signed in Geneva this week.

"Public input is essential at the earliest possible stage in the crafting of strong vehicle safety standards. We proposed steps that will make sure that the implementation of the agreement is shaped by the best insights of the public," said Dr. Ricardo Martinez, NHTSA administrator.

In 1997, the Department of State authorized NHTSA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conclude an agreement under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE) concerning the establishment of global technical regulations relating to motor vehicles, equipment and parts. In March 1998, the U.S., Japan and the European Communities reached agreement on a text which will be finalized and officially opened for signature on June 25, 1998, by all countries that are members of the United Nations.

Dr. Martinez, who guided the negotiations on behalf of the United States, said several key requirements had to be met for the agency to become involved in any international activity concerning vehicle safety standards. These include:

* Advancing vehicle safety by identifying and adopting best practices;
* Preserving the ability of countries to adopt measures that meet their vehicle safety needs; and
* Ensuring opportunity for public participation, including advance notice and periodic reports to the public with an opportunity for everyone to weigh in before the next steps are taken.

Dr. Martinez laid out NHTSA's plan for promoting effective public participation. A public workshop for discussion of the plan will be scheduled and a statement of policy will be published in the Federal Register so that the public can review and comment on it.

The statement of policy will provide for including representatives of non-governmental organizations on the U.S. delegation that attends the meetings in Geneva. The policy statement also will provide for parallel dissemination of domestic information about the development of international standards in Geneva. These procedures will include the following practices to ensure that information about developing regulatory standards is provided to the American public:

* Access to information. NHTSA will post on its Website information such as a periodically-updated agenda of pending and planned standard development activities and scheduled meetings under the agreement; key documents, such as proposed global technical regulations referred under the agreement to working parties of experts for their consideration; and working party reports recommending establishment of specific global technical regulations. NHTSA already has worked with the UN/ECE to ensure that its website is accessible to the U.S. public. NHTSA also has worked with the UN/ECE to ensure that meetings under the agreement are open to the public. In that respect, the sign on the door will be changed from "Private" to "Public" at the upcoming UN/ECE session in next week.
* Opportunity to be heard. NHTSA will solicit comments from the public on the agenda and key documents, as well as on NHTSA plans for submitting proposals for establishing a global technical regulation under the agreement. NHTSA will place those comments in the U.S. Department of Transportation's Internet-accessible public docket.
* Opportunity to discuss. NHTSA will hold periodic public meetings to discuss developments at recent meetings of the full membership of the global agreement and meetings of the working parties of experts.

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