WASHINGTON -- A House subcommittee passed the most sweeping auto-safety legislation in a decade in the wake of Toyota’s unintended acceleration problems while two key provisions were withdrawn and postponed for consideration.
The bill passed by the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on commerce would impose safety-technology requirements on automakers, increase federal regulators’ resources and boost the public transparency of safety-defect information.
Specifically, it would require automakers to install brake-override technology and event data recorders, or black boxes, in new vehicles.
Included was a provision opposed by automakers to require the black boxes to store data for at least 60 seconds before and 15 seconds after a crash. The auto lobbies said it could add thousands of dollars to the cost of each vehicle.
NHTSA’s funding would be doubled to $280 million by fiscal 2013. Fees of $9 a vehicle would be imposed on automakers to help fund the federal agency.
“The Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010 is important legislation that has the potential to dramatically improve vehicle safety into the future,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif.
The voice vote means that the bill will now go to the full committee, headed by Waxman, for balloting. No date has been scheduled for the committee vote.
Two provisions were withdrawn from the legislation passed today because of criticism by Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., who is in negotiations with Waxman over a possible compromise.
They will be revised and re-inserted into the bill before it is voted on by the committee, Waxman said. No date has been set for a full committee vote.
One provision in the original legislation would have increased maximum fines and removed the $16.4 million cap on safety-defect penalties against automakers.
Dingell has argued that a cap should be kept.
The other provision would have given NHTSA the authority to order immediate recalls if it determines that certain vehicles pose an “imminent hazard” to public safety.
Dingell has called for a process by which automakers can appeal this decision.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, has introduced legislation similar to that originally introduced by Waxman.