WASHINGTON, DC –(ENEWSPF)—February 27, 2015. Today, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce Manufacturing and Trade, joined with Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone and eight other members of the Committee to introduce the Vehicle Safety Improvement Act. The bill takes the lessons learned from the record 64 million recalled vehicles in 2014 to enhance oversight, improve information-sharing, and promote safety of American cars.
General Motors’ inability to identify a deadly ignition switch failure – and its failure to notify its customers of the problem for more than a decade – drew harsh scrutiny from Congress and the public when it was revealed last year. The root cause of Takata’s defective airbags that have killed and injured drivers and passengers remains a mystery to Takata, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the public. Last month, Honda reached a consent decree with NHTSA over its failure to report more than 1,700 injuries and deaths involving its vehicles for more than a decade as required by law.
These were just a few of a record number of auto safety violations discovered over the past year. In response, the Vehicle Safety Improvement Act strengthens transparency and oversight, increasing auto manufacturers’ accountability and federal regulators’ authority.
The Vehicle Safety Improvement Act makes it more costly for auto manufacturers to disregard or fail to comply with safety standards. It increases individual penalties and removes statutory maximum penalties for violations of motor vehicle safety laws, ensuring that sacrificing safety won’t be treated as a “slap on the wrist” or just another cost of doing business.
The bill increases the amount and accessibility of information auto manufacturers must share with NHTSA and the public about vehicle safety issues. It requires new standards to reduce the risk of pedestrian injuries and deaths, and asks for an analysis of whether safety standards should be developed to mitigate the safety risks to rear passengers. It ensures that used vehicles subject to recall are fixed by auto dealers before being resold. And it provides new authority to expedite auto recalls if they pose an “imminent hazard” of serious injury or death.
To help with these new safeguards, the bill increases NHTSA funding and resources for oversight and enforcement.
The American people deserve to have confidence that the cars they drive are safe,” said Schakowsky. “Over the past year and a half, we have seen a record number of recalls and far too many serious injuries and deaths. It’s time for stronger driver, passenger, and pedestrian safeguards, and the Vehicle Safety Improvement Act delivers on that need. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to advance this bill without delay.”
Pallone said, “Recent recalls demonstrate that more needs to be done to keep our roads safe. This bill takes a first step by getting NHTSA the information, resources, and authorities needed to protect consumers from vehicle safety defects. The bill also takes further important steps, including empowering consumers with more information, ensuring used cars are fixed before they are resold, and increasing safety for pedestrians and passengers in the rear seats of the cars.”