WASHINGTON - Under newly proposed auto-safety legislation being considered by Congress, all new vehicles would need to be equipped with "black boxes" that record performance data and federal safety regulators would be granted the authority to order immediate recalls, reported the Washington Post.
The draft of a bill was released April 29 by one of the House committees investigating Toyota's massive recalls for unintended acceleration in its vehicles. Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House commerce committee, and Sen. John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chair of the Senate commerce committee, have said they intend to collaborate on automobile safety legislation this year.
The draft contains a wide array of provisions. Some require new safety features, such as the black boxes - called event data recorders - and brake override systems that allow a driver to stop a car even when the throttle is stuck open.
Other elements of the bill give the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) more power to crack down on automakers that break the rules. The bill would create a "vehicle safety user fee," to be paid by manufacturers on each vehicle. The fee, which begins at $3 per vehicle and increases to $9 after three years, would supplement NHTSA's budget.
The bill also increases the fines that NHTSA can seek from an automaker. The bill does not allow for criminal penalties for automakers that knowingly violate safety laws, however, a sanction that advocates said was necessary to ensure compliance, reported the Post.