Advocates Urge Compromise on Releasing Highway Safety Data

On December 9, and several coalition partners joined in sending a letter to Senator Patrick Leahy, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to express concerns about a proposal in section 301 of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, S. 3302, that would authorize the Secretary of Transportation to establish categories of information that are exempt from public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). We understand that the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) seeks this authority to avoid the burden of processing the large amounts of regulatory data it regularly receives under FOIA. However, granting agencies the authority to unilaterally exempt information from the reach of the FOIA is not an appropriate way to handle resource issues, and is not in the spirit of the law. The letter urges Senator Leahy to not support the bill unless the language is modified.