House to Try to Advance Auto Safety Bill After August Recess

By | July 27, 2010

The House of Representatives will try to advance an overhaul of auto safety laws when Congress returns from its August recess, a top lawmaker said recently.

Rep. Henry Waxman, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he is hopeful the House will consider upgrading auto safety laws in the aftermath of Toyota’s recall of more than 8.5 million vehicles.

The legislation would increase penalties against car companies, require automakers to meet new safety standards and empower the government to demand a recall.

Business groups and automakers have opposed portions of the bill that would add fees to new vehicles and bolster fines against the companies. Safety groups have urged passage, arguing the bill is needed to address problems exposed by Toyota’s recalls.

House Republicans, meanwhile, asked the Obama administration for more information on the Toyota investigation.

The Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources, reported last week that the government had analyzed dozens of data recorders in Toyota vehicles involved in crashes blamed on unintended acceleration and found the throttles were open and the brakes were not engaged.

That would suggest drivers were to blame, stepping on the gas pedal when they intended to step on the brakes.

A group of House Republicans said they wanted to know whether the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has data from the event recorders showing cases in which unintended acceleration was the result of drivers accidentally hitting on the gas pedal.

Toyota has said it found a number of causes for unintended acceleration in its own investigation, including misplaced floormats or stacked floor mats and sticky pedals. Driver error has been to blame in most cases where the driver said the brake pedal was depressed, the company has said.

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