Driven by the ongoing safety scandal at Toyota, Congress appears intent on pushing through new auto safety rules, this year, and a proposal introduced into the Senate would both improve funding for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and give the agency more teeth to enforce its will.
Similar to a measure already introduced into the House of Representatives, the proposal is causing some concern among industry leaders – which they’re expected to underline during a hearing by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on Thursday.
The flurry of activity on Capitol Hill follows the recall of roughly 6 million vehicles by Toyota and that automaker’s decision to pay a $16.4 million fine for failing to notify NHTSA of problems with sticky accelerators in a timely manner. Though a record fine, that figure was still limited by current rules that might be lifted by Congress. A similar infraction, in the future, might generate penalties pushing into the billions.