House Committee Passes Auto Safety Bill

Under an auto safety bill passed by a House committee, automakers will have to take steps to prevent sudden acceleration and face a tougher National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The bill, created in response to Toyota’s recall of more that 8.5 million vehicles, will also require black boxes in new vehicles and impose rules on brake override systems.

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee objected to the expanded powers and increased funding given to NHTSA. A $3 to $9 vehicle user fee would pay for an expanded NHTSA, and the vehicle safety agency would be able to issue mandatory recalls, with carmakers allowed to present information before the final order is issued, the Associated Press reports.

Under existing rules, car companies voluntarily recall vehicles and can refuse a recall when NHTSA identifies a dangerous defect. If the company disagrees, NHTSA must prove that a recall is necessary and hold a public hearing.

The fine for failing to promptly report a defect would also be raised to as much as $200 million. Toyota recently paid the existing maximum fine of $16.4 million. The bill now goes to the full House, where supporters hope to pass it before the end of the year.

Related:
Black Box Proposal in Auto Safety Bill Stirs Debate
Bill Would Limit NHTSA Officials from Taking Auto Industry Jobs
Auto Safety Overhaul Could be Unveiled This Week
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Matthew Richmond is a researcher-reporter for FairWarning.

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