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Auto Safety Reforms Fail to Gain Support in Congress

In the wake of the massive and deadly General Motors ignition switch and Takata airbag recalls, Congress has been debating several important auto safety reforms. Unfortunately, it appears that very few will ever become law.

As The New York Times reports, a Senate Committee recently rejected several bills intended to address the rise in deadly motor vehicle recalls. Under one proposal, auto industry executives would face stiff criminal penalties, including jail time, for failing to disclose safety defects and take appropriate action.

“Hiding these deadly defects with near impunity is what the industry has succeeded in doing,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, who proposed several of the rejected measures.

Another proposal would have prohibited used-car dealers from selling vehicles with unrepaired recalls.

Thankfully, the committee did approve a few auto reforms. Lawmakers voted to advance a measure that would increase the maximum civil penalty imposed on automakers from $35 million to $70 million. They also advanced a proposal to prohibit the rental of motor vehicles with known defects.

Legislation with the intent of banning rental companies from the practice of renting out unsafe cars with safety recalls has been going on for numerous years. One of these measures is named after two sisters who died due to renting a recalled PT Cruiser from Enterprise.

Negotiations are expected to continue until the transportation bill reaches the Senate Floor, so there is hope that at least some of the proposed reforms will be revived. We will be closely tracking the legislation and will post updates as they become available.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured by a dangerous or defective vehicle, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego product liability attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.