In recent months, GM has recalled hundreds of thousands of vehicles in
response to a myriad of problems, including issues with an ignition switch
that may have caused at least a dozen car accident fatalities. The car
company allegedly knew about the problems long before recalling the cars
but failed to act to fix the problem or take the cars off the roads. Unfortunately,
this is not the first time that something like this has happened and it
likely will not be the last time. When a vehicle defect results in a collision,
victims need to consult a personal injury lawyer for help taking legal action.
In response to the wave of recalls and consumer concerns about safety issues,
U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller has introduced a Senate Bill (SB 2559) that
would expand funding to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
and that would give the agency more authority.
Proposed Bill Would Give NHTSA More Power
Senator Rockefeller is the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. According
to news sources, the bill he introduced would result in significant changes
including not just giving the NHTSA more power but also requiring more
oversight of the agency.
If the bill passed, the NHTSA would be required to make consumer complaints
public and would need to publicize the results of consumer satisfaction
campaigns. The NHTSA would become responsible for alerting the public
to consumer complaints; for publishing technical service bulletins; for
providing field reports to the public; for alerting people to recalls
and warranty claims; and for reporting to the public on “other activity
involving the repair or replacement of motor vehicles or motor vehicle
The NHTSA would also become responsible for generating certain new reports
on a regular basis and presenting the information to Congress. For example,
the secretary of transportation would be required to provide regular updates
on the Council for Vehicle Electronics, Vehicle Software and Emerging
Technologies. Additionally, the NHTSA would need to do a report on early
warning data, providing details on the safety investigations the agency
opens, the duration of each investigation and what percentage of the investigations
identified safety problems or resulted in a recall.
The NHTSA would be given more funding to comply with its new responsibilities
and serve its new role. The additional funding would be generated from
a new manufacturer’s fee on vehicles of $3 per car starting in 2015,
rising to $6 per car in 2016 and $9 per car in 2017. The fee would be
charged on sales from U.S. automakers.
The Bill is before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
It is not clear if the bill will leave committee or if it will ever get
a full vote of the Senate or House of Representatives. However, if it
does become law, it could be a positive step forward in helping to ensure
that the NHTSA is taking a much more active role to prevent and remove
defective products from the market.