Auto Safety Regulations

Auto Safety Regulations

Responding to Toyota Motor Corp.’s acceleration crisis, a subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce opened hearings on proposed legislation sponsored by the group’s chairman, Henry J. Waxman, a Democrat of California. The aim of the hearing is to reshape auto safety regulations and increase potential fines against automakers for violating safety laws.

The new legislation would create at least half a dozen new safety rules and standards. All new motor vehicles will be required to have the so-called black boxes or event data recorders, and brake override systems.

As H.J. Waxman stated in one of the interviews this will give the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the ability to protect the public and to deal with concerns raised by Toyota and other manufacturers.

The legislation is titled the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010 and is a big overhaul in the federal auto safety regulations.

The bill is likely to face opposition from car manufacturers, in particular over a provision that would remove the existing $16.4-million cap on civil penalties against automakers for violations of safety laws and increase the fine for each violation to $25,000, from the current $6,000.

The measure has several other provisions that might also draw protests from the auto industry. It would create a new tax of $9 per new vehicle after three years payable by the manufacturer.

Auto safety regulations would create a number of requirements that appear aimed at a number of specific shortcomings that were identified in Toyota vehicles that failed to prevent sudden acceleration.

The measure would require car manufacturers to adopt so-called brake overrides, which cut engine power back to idle when the brake pedal is depressed. It would also set separate new standards on keyless ignition systems, the placement of foot pedals and transmission shift controls.