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Auto manufacturers oppose stricter recall rules

The Senate is considering a bill that would raise fines for automobile manufacturers who delay recalls of defective or dangerous vehicles.  If the bill passes, maximum fines will increase from $17.35 million to $250 million.  Unsurprisingly, national auto groups are opposing the measure.

Democratic Senators Mark Pryor (Arkansas) and Jay Rockefeller (West Virginia) introduced the bill in late July.  According to The Detroit News,  “[p]roponents have been pushing for more than a year to strengthen auto safety measures in the wake of sudden acceleration concerns in Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles.”

In a joint letter, automobile corporations called the proposed fines “unfairly punitive.”  They are urging the Senate to decrease the amounts to “a more appropriate level.”  The companies are also opposing a measure that would require a senior official at each auto company to certify the accuracy of its recall reports and require fines of $5,000 a day for submitting false, misleading, or incomplete information.

The proposed Motor Vehicle Safety Act contains a number of other components that would increase driver and passenger safety.  For example, one Democrat-sponsored proposal would bar rental car companies from renting or selling vehicles that are under recall.  Another part of the Act would prevent manufacturers from installing televisions within eyesight of drivers.  The Act would also require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to “set standards for the placement of pedals to ensure that they are located to prevent them from getting stuck.”  Auto groups oppose the the NHTSA requirement.

Automakers do support at least one provision: a proposed mandate requiring that all new vehicles include event data recorders.  They are requesting that manufacturers be given “sufficient lead time to develop and implement this technology in their fleets.”

Entry Filed under: Products Liability

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