House, Senate Transportation Bill Compromise to Address Auto Safety

November 9, 2015

The multiyear transportation bill that passed the U.S. House this week parcels out a number of provisions on auto safety and environmental regulation sought by interest groups including automakers, dealers and safety advocates.

Following are six measures that will now be subject to negotiations between House and Senate lawmakers as Congress works toward a compromise package that can be sent to President Barack Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

The House bill:

* Protects automakers from liabilities, including potential regulatory action, for failing to follow safety guidelines from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, including recommendations for minimizing distractions from installed electronic equipment; allows the automakers to use their compliance with NHTSA guidelines as evidence of compliance with safety regulations;

  • Extends the requirement for manufacturers to pay for recall remedies from 10 years to 15 years before a recall notice is released;
  • Exempts auto dealers from a requirement prohibiting the rental, leasing or sale of vehicles that are subject to safety recalls until after the defects have been repaired;
  • Extends the length of time for which manufacturers must maintain vehicle safety records from five years to 10 years’;
  • Ensures free access for industry operators to searchable public websites containing information on recalls including Vehicle Identification Numbers; sets deadlines of less than a week for automakers to make the information available; and gives the U.S. Transportation Department the option of posting the information on a government website such as NHTSA’s Safercar.gov or having it posted on a manufacturer’s website;
  • Exempts from safety and emission standards for vehicles introduced solely for testing or evaluation purposes, as well as up to 500 motor vehicles a year that resemble vintage and are produced by a low-volume manufacturer.

The House bill also renews the charter for the Export Import bank through Sept. 30, 2019, with some reforms. The Senate bill has very similar language.

(Reporting by David Morgan)

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