The U.S. Congress is voting on a new highway bill that if passed, would bring some much needed money and changes for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Automotive News reports the new bill, called Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act would be the first long-term highway plan in a decade. If passed, the bill would provide roughly $300 billion for roads, bridges, and mass-transit projects. The bill would also increase NHTSA's budget for defect investigations from $10 million a year to $30 million. But for NHTSA to get the increase in the budget, they would need to implement a number of reforms outlined by Transportation Department’s inspector general.
Along with the increase in the defect investigation budget, FAST would some much-needed changes in how recalls and defects are dealt with.
- The maximum fine for safety violations will increase from $35 million to $105 million
- Employees who report on potentially dangerous safety violations will be rewarded
- If there is a financial penalty put on an automaker or supplier, a whistleblower could get up to 30 percent of the penalty
- Automakers will need to keep safety data for 10 years (up from the current 5) and provide part numbers for defective parts to NHTSA
- Dealers will be required to notify customers of an open recall
- Rental car companies will not be allowed to rent out vehicles that have an open recall
- States would be given funds to notify owners who renew their vehicle registration that a recall is due
Currently, the bill has bipartisan support and the White House announced that President Obama would sign the bill if passed.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)