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Auto Safety Advocates Push for New Laws

The Toyota recalls have spurred significant interest in auto crashworthiness and safety issues. As a result, there is an intensified push to rewrite the nation’s auto safety laws, according to Detroit News. Toyota paid a record $16.4 million fine for not being prompt with its recalls of several vehicle models that had defective gas pedals and floor mats, which caused unintended or sudden acceleration in the vehicles. That fine was the maximum allowed under the law.

But several legislators are supporting the increase of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s powers and also removing the limit on fines imposed on auto makers for violating the law. The proposed auto safety bill also requires widespread safety changes in vehicles including mandating brake override systems, data recorders and a pedal placement standard to prevent entrapment under floor mats. The bill will give the NHTSA the power to halt vehicle sales and production if it determines a vehicle is an imminent danger to consumers.

The silver lining in the Toyota episode is the attention it has drawn to the important issue of auto safety. Civil litigation has been an integral part of forcing auto makers to manufacture safer vehicles. These new laws will hopefully provide more of an incentive for auto makers to put consumers ahead of profits.

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