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U.S. Senate Commerce Chair Proposes Auto Safety Bill

In response to recent recalls and vehicle safety concerns, U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, introduced S. 2559, a bill to expand the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) authority to recall unsafe vehicles and increase funding for automobile safety.

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In response to recent recalls and vehicle safety concerns, U.S. Sen. Jay
Rockefeller (D-W.V.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, introduced S.
2559, a bill to expand the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s
(NHTSA) authority to recall unsafe vehicles and increase funding for automobile
safety.

This bill would demand greater transparency
from NHTSA by requiring that all customer satisfaction campaigns, customer
advisories, recalls, consumer complaints, warranty claims, field reports,
technical service bulletins and other activity involving the repair or
replacement of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment be made available to
the public.

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It also would require NHTSA to make
several regular reports to Congress, including a report on the results of a
study of the use of early warning data. The study would evaluate the number of
safety defect investigations opened by NHTSA, the duration of each safety
defect investigation, and the percentage of the safety defect investigations
that result in a safety defect or recall.

Another report would require the
secretary of transportation to prepare a report regarding the operations of the
Council for Vehicle Electronics, Vehicle Software and Emerging Technologies.

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S. 2559 also would increase funding for
NHTSA’s vehicle safety programs. The additional funding would stem from a
manufacturer’s fee of $3 per vehicle beginning in 2015, rising to $6 a year
later and then $9 in 2017. The fee would be based on automakers’ U.S. sales.
Rockefeller’s bill is currently before the Senate Committee on Commerce,
Science and Transportation where it awaits further consideration.

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