In the aftermath of Toyota receiving maximum fines by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for failing to properly notify the agency regarding defects concerning sudden acceleration in some of its models, legislation is being proposed to prevent a similar situation from happening again. The current maximum fine is $16.4 million, but the American Association for Justice (AAJ) is proposing that there be no maximum fine for civil penalties. This would mean hefty penalties for automakers, thus providing greater motivation for companies to promptly disclose defects.
In addition, AAJ proposes that there be early warning information available to customers, so that they may be able to have information before they purchase a vehicle. Also, new vehicles would be required to be equipped with a “black box” device that would record crash data. According to the article by Justice.org “Data recorders help investigators identify exactly what happened when an accident occurred and more easily assess malfunctions and safety hazards.”
The proposed legislation would also set a brake-override standard, which would stop run-away vehicles with normal braking pressure, even with a wide-open throttle. Lawmakers also suggest whistleblower protections for automaker employees. This would allow employees to confidentially report problems to the NHTSA if automakers were not following policies.
Ultimately, the proposed legislation would protect drivers from dangerous auto defects. The faster the bill is passed, the better. While the new laws would create little hassle to companies who already maintain standards, they would provide much-needed protection against those who do not