By on April 29, 2015

US Senate Wing of the Capitol

Tuesday, the U.S. Senate approved a whistleblower bill that would incentivize those in the auto industry to blow the whistle on potential safety problems.

The Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act would give the U.S. Secretary of Transportation the discretion to award whistleblowers up to 30 percent of the total monetary penalties levied by the transportation or justice departments that total a minimum of $1 million, The Detroit News reports.

The bill would cover all employees and contractors working at automakers, suppliers or dealerships, and take into account “original information” on product defects and other safety issues the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration didn’t know about previously, the information’s significance, and whether the whistleblower did everything they could to let the employer know prior to blowing the whistle.

Senate Commerce Committee chairman John Thune of South Dakota and panelist Bill Nelson of Florida both praised the Senate’s decision to pass the whistleblower bill by unanimous vote, noting that it would reward those in the industry for presenting safety issues before anyone is killed or injured as a result of industry inaction. The bill now goes on to the House, where House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton of Michigan repeatedly stated that auto safety-related bills have yet to be addressed this year.

[Photo credit: Ron Cogswell/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]

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