Preventing car accidents often involves many steps, including public education about driving risks and tough vehicle safety standards. While National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) guidelines set minimum standards for safety, some automakers release vehicles to the public despite knowing that the cars have vehicle defects that could be dangerous. One high-profile example of this involves accusations that General Motors released vehicles for sale despite knowing ignition problems could result in the cars shutting off randomly. GM not only may have known about the defect and sold the cars anyway, but it took a long time (and multiple deaths) before it cooperated with a recall to get the dangerous cars off the roads and get them fixed.
Keeping Unsafe Vehicles off the Roads to Prevent Car Accidents
As part of the highway transportation bill, the U.S. Senate suggested changing the cap on the amount of fines automakers can be assessed for releasing defective and dangerous vehicles. The bill would triple the cap to $105 million. Some lawmakers suggested getting rid of the cap entirely, but this proposal was not made part of the final bill. Others suggested the cap on fines should be raised to $300 million instead of just tripling the fines. There was also a proposal to impose criminal penalties on auto industry executives who were aware of safety problems or who intentionally hid information about the issues, but that proposal was rejected.
In addition to imposing a higher penalty cap, the transportation bill has several other provisions aimed at reducing car accidents and making the roads safer. The bill provides more funding to the NHTSA to conduct investigations into potential problems with vehicles. The bill also mandates rental cars that have vehicle defects and that have been recalled cannot be rented until the defects have been repaired (there have been deaths associated with the rental of recalled vehicles in the past). Finally, there is a proposal to have auto dealers conduct a recall check on consumer vehicles brought in for routine services, so drivers can find out about recalls in a timely manner.
Vehicles with defects are dangerous and can significantly increase the risk of car accidents. Keeping defective cars off the road should be a top priority. The proposed bill pending in the House of Representatives could have been stronger. But it’s at least a step in the right direction if it’s passed by the House and signed into law by President Barack Obama.
Missouri accident victims should contact the offices of Tolbert Beadle LLC at 1-800-887-4030. Serving Springfield, Columbia, Jefferson City, Joplin and throughout Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri & Oklahoma.