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Senate Committee OKs Auto Safety Bill

June 16, 2010

WASHINGTON - The Senate Commerce Committee on June 9 approved legislation that would require automakers to meet new safety standards. The bill would also impose higher penalties for companies failing to report defects quickly, and would double funding for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Associated Press reported. 

Supporters of the bill hope to approve the legislation by the July 4 holiday recess. A House committee approved similar legislation last month. 

The Senate legislation would require automakers to meet new standards related to brake override systems, vehicle black boxes and auto electronics. Companies could face penalties up to $300 million for a slow response to a safety-threatening defect. In addition, the bill calls for NHTSA's annual budget to grow from $140 million to $280 million in 2013. 

In separate action, the Senate committee also approved the creation of a $120 million grant program for states enacting laws that ban texting while driving and the use of handheld cell phones behind the wheel.

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