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Compromise Reached on House Auto Safety Bill

May 26, 2010

WASHINGTON - In anticipation of May 26's key committee hearing on plans to overhaul the nation's auto safety laws, some key legislators reached a compromise late the previous night, according to a Detroit News report. 

Congressmen John Dingell (D-MI) and Bart Stupak (D-MI) reportedly agreed to co-sponsor a compromise bill to reform auto safety laws. The author of the compromise bill was Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), who serves as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce committee. 

The revised bill gives more leeway for final decision-making to federal regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The revised bill also gives automakers more time to comply with new safety requirements, the Detroit News reported. 

Provisions include:

  • Automaker executives submitting false reports to government investigators would face fines of $5,000 per day up to $5 million for a single recall. (The original bill would have imposed up to $250 million in civil fines on auto executives found to have withheld information related to recalls.)
  • For civil fines faced by automakers per recall, setting the cap at $200 million, or $25,000 per vehicle, which is five times the current amount.
  • Requiring that the Transportation Department find "substantial likelihood of death or serious injury to the public" before the department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration agency could exercise new "imminent hazard" authority to get unsafe vehicles off the road.
  • Requiring that the NHTSA start developing rules on the placement of pedals within 18 months to prevent the potential obstruction of pedals.
  • Requiring "at least a sufficient period of time to capture all relevant data from a crash, including vehicle rollovers," and establishing "appropriate recording times for capturing data prior to a crash event." 

The committee has the option of sending the bill to the full House this week. 

Meanwhile, a Senate committee is expected to address major vehicle safety legislation on June 9.




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