A U.S. Senate committee plans to consider several transportation safety bills on Wednesday, including a long-delayed bill that would strengthen government oversight of the auto industry.
The Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has scheduled hearings on a bill crafted after Toyota Motor Corp.’s unintended acceleration crisis last year.
The bill -- the Motor Vehicle and Highway Safety Improvement Act -- seeks to give more regulatory power to U.S. safety officials, including raising the maximum fine to $250 million on automakers that delay recalls. The current maximum is $17.35 million.
The legislation, sponsored by Sens. Mark Pryor, D-Ark, and Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., also provides grants to states for cracking down on texting while driving and bolsters early warning requirements for vehicle safety defects.
Several auto industry groups, including the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the American International Automobile Dealers Association, have opposed some measures in the bill.
In a letter sent to the bill’s patrons last Thursday, a coalition of industry groups argued that some of the proposed requirements are of questionable benefit and will divert resources from other “pressing safety concerns.” They also said the language on distracted driving grants is too vague.