Senators will reintroduce legislation to increase transparency and earlier reporting of auto defects

Washington (January 15, 2016) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, released the following statement after automakers and the federal government today announced a new voluntary agreement on auto safety.

“The principles put forth today by the automotive industry and the federal government fall short in the one key area in what is necessary to keep American drivers safe: force. Unless these commitments are legally-binding and enforceable, there is no guarantee that we can ensure that automakers and the federal government can prevent future tragedies. We need clear rules, not voluntary commitments. This proposal does little to advance a commitment to real reform and increased safety requirements and only continues a culture of informality between automakers and regulators that lead to the deaths hundreds of Americans from defective ignition switches, exploding airbags, vehicles that burst into flames and other deadly defects.  From seatbelts to catalytic converters to airbags to fuel economy standards, automakers have proven time and time again that they do nothing voluntarily.


“In the coming weeks, we plan to reintroduce auto safety legislation that will require auto manufacturers to provide more information about incidents involving fatalities to NHTSA and that NHTSA makes that information publicly available – to truly ensure the safety of American drivers is protected.”


In the wake of the GM ignition switch scandal, Senators Markey and Blumenthal introduced the Early Warning Reporting System Improvement Act, legislation that would require NHTSA to make information it receives from auto manufacturers publicly available in a searchable, user-friendly format so that consumers and independent safety experts can personally evaluate potential safety defects. The senators also expressed concern about the efficacy of NHTSA’s regional recall system and EWR program after Honda Motor Company failed to report accidents caused by a now-confirmed airbag safety defect and urged NHTSA to ensure that all manufacturers were complying with the systems. They additionally wrote to NHTSA urging NHTSA to promulgate rules to  increase early warning reporting requirements for automakers in order to make more potentially life-saving information available to NHTSA and the public. The Senators also introduced theAutomaker Accountability Act, a bill that would eliminate the cap on the maximum allowable civil fine the Department of Transportation (DOT) can levy on automakers for safety violations or failure to report known defects.