Federal Legislators Negotiating Motor Vehicle Safety Bill

With all of the recent safety issues surrounding Toyota, and now GM, the federal government has taken action by introducing a vehicle safety act in both the House and Senate. The Washington Post reported recently about the back and forth negotiations between auto makers and consumer protection activists.

The proposed legislation, known as the Motor Safety Vehicle Act of 2010, would require the agency to set standards for the first time on electronic components in vehicles, increase penalties for automakers who lie or mislead the agency about safety defects and bar agency officials hired by automakers from working with the agency for three years.

Since the bills were introduced, lawmakers have made changes that eliminate or extend deadlines for setting some of the new safety standards; give the transportation secretary the discretion to set rules that had been mandated in earlier versions; and require safety standards to “mitigate” runaway acceleration rather than “prevent” the problem, records show.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee, defended the House bill, saying it would “dramatically improve the safety of motor vehicles.” He pointed to requirements that vehicles contain a brake override system and “black boxes” to record crash information, to larger fines should automakers fail to report defects and to a tripling of funds for the agency over the next four years.

It is not surprising at all to see this type off fall out after the Toyota fiasco. It will be interesting to see what the final bill looks like.

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