By on June 27, 2014

Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia

Outgoing chair of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia (pictured at right) has proposed legislation that would authorize increased funding and authority to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to deal with safety defects in vehicles.

Automotive News reports the bill, inspired by the February 2014 General Motors recall of 2.6 million vehicles over an out-of-spec ignition switch linked to 54 accidents and 13 fatalities thus far, would also ban sales of used vehicles under recall until the problem is fixed or the buyer is alerted to the issue. In addition, the public would gain access to early warning reports sent by automakers to the NHTSA, a proposition made earlier this year by Sens. Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Bluementhal of Connecticut.

As for the funding component, Rockefeller proposes automakers pay a user fee based on their sales in the United States. The fee would start at $3 per vehicle sold one year after the bill becomes law, increasing by an additional $3 per year through the third year, at which point the fee would adjust with inflation on an annual basis.

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31 Comments on “Senator Rockefeller Proposes Legislation To Strengthen NHTSA...”


  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Reminds me of that photo of MacArthur standing next to Hirohito.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    This guy is one regulatory nanny who really needs to go away.

  • avatar
    RangerM

    How would such additional funding have prevented the GM ignition switch incident in the first place?

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      More funding = More enforcement

      More enforcement = (1) Catching problems sooner + (2) Providing a deterrent for future bad behavior

      The Obama administration has tried to create a deterrent effect by imposing massive fines at unprecedented levels, but that only goes so far.

      • 0 avatar
        RangerM

        “More funding = More enforcement More enforcement = (1) Catching problems sooner + (2) Providing a deterrent for future bad behavior”

        You haven’t explained how. The problems were discussed internally, but there was nothing known outside GM (or so has been reported) for years.

        Be specific. What form does “more enforcement” take?

        Are they going to hire more “enforcers” to monitor internal corporate email? (and that would carry a certain irony, given recent events)

        Are the “enforcers” going to crawl up everybody’s ass at the company looking for something to get ‘em on?

        Unless such enforcement is going to be internally-focused so as to be preventative, then as far as I can tell, it would only be the same after-the-fact enforcement it always has been.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Good luck getting an NHTSA official a seat on the board.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          I have already explained how. It should be obvious from GM’s reaction to the exceptionally high fines and bad government-funded PR that the automakers behave differently when the screws are turned. Not only do they respond to existing problems differently, but they become more proactive about avoiding future controversy.

          • 0 avatar
            RangerM

            Then you didn’t answer the question I asked. I asked how more money prevents future incidents. Fines are reactive (ie. After the incident has already occurred).

            You may say they’re proactive because higher fines will provide a deterrent. However, how does imposing higher fines cost $3 per car?

            That is the “how” you didn’t answer.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The desire to avoid large fines and bad PR promotes proactive behavior.

            If you think that automakers don’t alter their behavior based upon the level of scrutiny, then you simply aren’t paying attention. We have examples of this happening right now as we speak, with GM recalling everything from here to Kingdom Come as it scrambles to avoid more substantial penalties and the prolonged negative media attention that goes with them.

          • 0 avatar
            RangerM

            Still obtuse.

            You can’t say what the additional money is spent on, but you know you favor it.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The obtuseness is coming strictly from your end. The facts are hiding in plain sight.

            More regulators allows for greater scrutiny, since more stuff is noticed and less of it is missed. NHTSA staffing levels are lower than they once were, which causes them to miss problems. Your kneejerk opposition to it causes you to miss some rather obvious points.

          • 0 avatar
            RangerM

            How would greater staffing have prevented the incident at GM.

            What exactly would one, ten, or a hundred additional regulators have done? What would be their job description? Do they approve every engineering schematic, or sit on the assembly line?

            Again, HOW does more money in the regulator’s hands force GM to act on what its internal corporate structure was preventing?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “How would greater staffing have prevented the incident at GM.”

            You should type a couple of words into Google, namely “proactive” and “deterrent.”

            The administration’s policy is to hand out large fines when automakers aren’t proactive.

            Do the math: Large penalties when caught + Increased likelihood of being caught = More proactive behavior.

            Perhaps you don’t follow the arithmetic, but Mary Barra clearly does, as we can see from her considerable recall efforts. GM doesn’t want to be punished anymore than it already has, and it is setting an example for their competitors.

          • 0 avatar
            RangerM

            Greater fines don’t require $3, $6, or $9 per car.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I asked you to type “deterrent” into Google. I can see that you didn’t bother.

          • 0 avatar
            RangerM

            And you haven’t established how $3, $6, or $9 per car provides that deterrent, because you can’t establish a purpose for it other than “more staff” with no defined job description.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I’ve made the point several times. You’re obviously working overtime to not get it.

          • 0 avatar
            RangerM

            Your explanation amounts to……

            1. Collect Underpants.
            2. ?????????
            3. Profit

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            It’s one thing for you to fail to understand basic concepts. It’s quite another for you to be proud of your failure.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      Higher vehicle prices, higher taxes, more useless federal employees, weaker economy, fewer vehicle sales, fewer defective ignitions.

      Voila!

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        As a useless federal employee I applaud your reasoning.

        All that matters is our paycheck and growing our agencies.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        Watch out! 9 Dollars per vehicle increase! Run for the hills our economy is going to collapse! Any other sage advice?

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          Multiply by infinity. Enjoy the decline, you’ve earned it.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            A deterrent?

            More fees and more regulators/investigators does not necessarily mean less problems.

            Might be more effective to hire an advertising agency and run commercials about a company’s recalls.

            Shame and humiliation has been keeping society in line for centuries.

            Nothing like a light shining into the dark recesses to send the insects scurrying for cover.

            Ever notice that a government’s way of solving a problem is by increasing the size of government?

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            When infinity becomes a number in economics you’ll opinion will matter. By the way, it’s a user fee that quite literally amounts to .0003% of a sales price of a new car on average. It’s infinitesimal. But don’t let it get in the way of your anti-government screed.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    NHTSA; a day late and a dollar short. The business environment surrounding these issues is quickly changing on it’s own to accomodate what the public feels should be done as seen with the increasing intensity of voluntary recalls from all automakers, especially GM.

    This regulatory funding dog and pony show allows politicians and benign agencies to show the public “they’re doing something about it!”, but that will be about the extent of the net effect.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The only reason that GM is now jumping through hoops to deal with its product issues is that it is being squeezed by regulators on one side and trial lawyers on the other.

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    The free marketers are cheering on the ‘voluntary recall’ of GM products. The Anti-regulatory crowd are freaking out the NHTSA may actually get some teeth in this battle. Yet I’m fairly sure when I read through the GM recall threads most of these folks were calling for blood. How quickly the tune changes the second you try to be proactive.


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