National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Crowell & Moring offers decades of experience with NHTSA that includes regulatory counseling, transactional work, and litigation. We advise manufacturers and sellers of passenger cars, trucks, buses, RVs, motorcycles, tires, and all types of original and aftermarket equipment (e.g., engines, air bags, lighting, brakes, wheels, tires, steering components, windshields, and vehicle electronics).


Our team has decades of experience representing clients with products that fall within NHTSA’s jurisdiction under both the Safety Act and the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act. Our attorneys counsel clients on all of their NHTSA needs, including:

  • Whether their products fall within NHTSA jurisdiction.
  • Whether component equipment contains a defect that warrants reporting.
  • How and when to conduct corrective actions and the varied forms such actions may take.
  • Setting up a compliance program to ensure timely submission of technical bulletins, reports of safety-related defects and noncompliance with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard and the reporting of incidents involving death.
  • Handling Freedom of Information Act issues with regard to submission of data to NHTSA.

We have been counsel of record in some of the larger and highest profile NHTSA recalls in United States history, such as matters concerning tread separation, vehicle fires, ignition switches, and airbags.

We know key NHTSA players from our years of practice before the agency, and are able to open doors and achieve efficient and effective results for clients in part through these solid agency relationships.

We also assist clients before sister motor vehicle agencies in certain other countries.


Our team does diligence and otherwise participates in transactions related to NHTSA and more generally to the automotive industry. Recently, we have reviewed reps and warranties for an automotive client seeking to acquire a company facing potential NHTSA and recall exposure. We have advised clients new to the automotive industry, either as a result of a new business venture or the purchase of an existing automotive product line. We have counseled companies embarking on new manufacturing ventures on the varied aspects of NHTSA compliance and certification issues regarding the design, testing, and production phases, including building a NHTSA reporting compliance program. For those companies purchasing an existing product line, our experience ranges from auditing and updating NHTSA reporting protocols already in place, to formulating policies and protocols from the ground up in cases where the prior owners may not have been reporting as required.


We have represented automotive industry clients in state and federal courts across the country for decades. Our team includes federal and state prosecutors and trial attorneys who understand the objectives and tactics of law-enforcement and administrative officials, particularly in the current environment of “regulation through litigation.”  We also litigate the role of NHTSA and its enforcement authority in fending off automotive class actions.