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More coverage on vehicle safety preemption issues

Two stories in a single day about preemption? Remarkable! First we had a column in The Examiner (see post below) and now a thorough piece from Dow-Jones, "Auto Makers Fight US Measure That Could Lead To More Civil Lawsuits," writing about the anti-preemption amendment added by Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA):

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- A U.S. congressional proposal backed by consumer advocates and plaintiffs' lawyers could make it easier for Americans to sue auto makers over vehicle defects.

The story notes Braley's career as a trial lawyer who sued over safety issues.

As for the Senate version of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, S. 3302, it passed out of the Commerce Committee on unanimous consent following perhaps two minutes worth of discussion. Chairman Jay Rockefeller's opening statement is here. There was a brief note of the Sen. Kerry's amendment to require "quiet vehicles" -- e.g., hybrids and electric cars -- to make a noise so blind people and others will be aware of their presence.

But that's just a minor addition, an aftermarket parts, as it were.

The core of the bill, as per The Wall Street Journal:

The Senate bill would require auto makers to equip vehicles with "black boxes" that record crash data and with brake-override systems, designed to ensure a vehicle stops when both the accelerator and brake pedals are pressed down. The bill is also designed to enable regulators to more quickly respond to reports of vehicle defects, provide the NHTSA with more electrical engineers to study possible defects, and raise the cap on civil fines imposed on auto makers that are found to have hidden defects from regulators.

The cap would be raised to $300 million. The largest fine ever paid was by Toyota, $16.4 million.

More ...
AP, "Senate committee approves auto safety upgrades"

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.