Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee introduced the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2014 that would give the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration more funding to conduct more investigations and stronger powers to get unsafe vehicles off the road more quickly. It would boost funding for federal auto safety oversight by more than $100 million to $280 million by 2017.
“If NHTSA doesn’t have the resources or capabilities to protect the driving public and fulfill its mission, then Congress must step in and give this agency what it needs to meet these critically important goals,” Rockefeller said. “For the past 15 years many of us have attempted to bolster NHTSA’s authority, precisely to better prevent tragedies like the deaths caused by GM’s faulty ignition switches.
The bill comes amid intense concern by Congress over General Motors Co. failure to recall 2.6 million vehicles linked to at least 13 deaths for ignition switch defects.
Both Rockefeller’s and the House bill would create a new, $3-per-vehicle fee to fund a hike in auto safety enforcement by NHTSA, and would rise to $9 in three years, then go up with inflation every year.
In April, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, reintroduced a fee that would initially raise about $45 million to $50 million a year based on current sales volume.
Similar bills were introduced in Congress in 2010 in the wake of Toyota Motor Corp.’s sudden acceleration problems but neither got a vote by either the full House or Senate. Both Rockefeller and Waxman, two of the key advocates on auto safety in Congress, are retiring this year.
Both bills would also prohibit car dealers from selling used vehicles with known pending safety recalls without fixing the defect or making the consumer aware of the defect. Currently, only new car dealers are required to make recall repairs before selling a vehicle.