Rep Henry Waxman’s version of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act passed the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection today, and will go before the full Committee On Energy And Congress. The subcommittee markup [in PDF format here] includes a number of provisions that the industry and others had argued against, such as a $9 fee on each new vehicle sale, and mandatory event data recorders (EDRs) which would “continuously record vehicle operational data” and store all data from 60 seconds before, and 15 seconds after a crash. According to Automotive News [sub], Rep John Dingell is in negotiations with committee chairman Waxman to mitigate two key proposals: the removal of a cap on NHTSA fines, and the granting of so-called “imminent hazard” authority.
Dingell (D-MI), whose wife was a longtime GM lobbyist, is probably negotiating a new cap on NHTSA fines, likely to be somewhere above the $16.4m maximum recently paid by Toyota. And rather than fighting “imminent hazard” authority itself, Dingell is likely proposing an appeal system for automakers in danger of having sales forcibly stopped by NHTSA.
On the other hand, the subcommittee website has a record of other amendments which failed to make the markup. One amendment, by Rep Ed Whitfield (R – KY) would have required that
event data recorders be configured to allow the owner of the vehicle to enable and disable the recording function without interfering with the safety functions of the vehicle
No such luck. Another Whitfield amendment would have sought to keep established privacy guarantees for “trade secrets and commercial information” in the course of government agency regulation, by removing clauses from the bill that would have voided these guarantees for:
(1) Production information regarding passenger motor vehicles, information on incidents involving death or injury, and numbers of property damage claims.
(2) Aggregated numbers of consumer complaints.
Another failed amendment would have given NHTSA up to five years to roll out new standards mandated by the act, instead of two. Another would have removed the $9 per new vehicle sale “vehicle safety user fee.”