Senate introduces auto safety overhall

Posted on May 05, 2010

On Tuesday, the Senate Commerce Committee proposed a major overhaul to the nation's auto safety requirements following Toyota's large-scale safety recalls this year. 


The plan would force auto manufactures to meet new safety standards regarding brake override systems, vehicle black boxes and auto electronics. This is the second bill released regarding auto safety, following a similar bill from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, but is the first significant reform since the Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. tire recalls of over a decade ago. 


The bill requires that cars stop within a certain distance when the car's engine is operating with an open throttle, which means that the brakes always override the accelerator pedal. It also requires car companies to install event data recorders, also know as "black boxes", that record information before and after a crash. 


The bill would also eliminate any caps on penalties against automakers who fail to promptly report a recall, raising the per vehicle civil penalty from $5,000 to $25,000.


It also would expand the powers of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, including the ability for the agency to order immediate recalls of vehicles.