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More Auto Regulations Coming?

From The Heritage Foundation:

The aftermath of the unintended acceleration hearings involving Toyota is moving to the front burner again as lawmakers are proposing legislation that would increase auto safety regulations to address all potential sources of unintended acceleration. The bill would also increase the budget of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as well increase the maximum financial penalty Congress could impose on an automaker. Draft legislation titled The Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010 has been introduced in the House by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.).

The Los Angeles Times reports that:

“The bill is likely to face opposition from automakers, in particular over a provision that would remove the existing $16.4-million cap on civil penalties against vehicle manufacturers for violations of safety laws and boost the fine for each violation to $25,000, from the current $6,000.

It would create a new tax of $9 per new vehicle after three years, payable by the manufacturer, to help fund NHTSA and some of the new requirements of the law. The tax could raise more than $100 million a year based on current sales figures.

Beyond fines and taxes, the bill would dramatically overhaul the federal government’s ability to oversee rapidly advancing electronics technology that is at the heart of new vehicles. It would create a center for vehicle electronics and emerging technologies. The measure would require automakers to adopt so-called brake overrides, which cut engine power back to idle when the brake pedal is depressed. It would also set separate new standards on the placement of foot pedals, keyless ignition systems and transmission shift controls.”

In what the LA Times article calls “one of the biggest overhauls of federal motor vehicle safety regulation in a generation”, the new regulations will certainly cost consumers more than nine dollars per vehicle. The important question is what will the real cost of the new regulations be and will the benefits outweigh those costs?

Read the rest at The Heritage Foundation.


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