"boxes" will also be used to generate per-mile use tax of highways, and
other oppressive measures. I'm sure the devices will be rigged so that
cars will not run if they are removed or disabled.
Auto bill draft would require black boxes, allow NHTSA to issue quick
By Peter Whoriskey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 30, 2010; A14
All new cars would have to be equipped with "black boxes" that record
performance data and federal safety regulators would be granted the
authority to order immediate recalls under newly proposed auto-safety
legislation being considered by Congress.
The draft of a bill was released Thursday by one of the House committees
investigating Toyota's massive recalls for unintended acceleration in
its vehicles. Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House
commerce committee, and Sen. John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chair of the
Senate commerce committee, have said they intend to collaborate on
automobile safety legislation this year.
The draft contains a wide array of provisions. Some require new safety
features, such as the black boxes -- called event data recorders -- and
brake override systems that allow a driver to stop a car even when the
throttle is stuck open.
Other elements of the bill give the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration more power to crack down on automakers that break the
"Our initial thoughts on this are that Congress have given us a
legislative vehicle that has come fully loaded with all the options,"
said Gloria Bergquist, a vice president at Auto Alliance, the industry
trade association. "We are going to look at each one of these and ask:
Where are we going to get the safety enhancements?"
"It's a terrific bill," said Joan Claybrook, a safety advocate and
former NHTSA administrator. "It tackles a lot of the key issues."
The bill would create a "vehicle safety user fee," to be paid by
manufacturers on each vehicle. The money would supplement NHTSA's
budget. The fee begins at $3 per vehicle and increases to $9 after three
The bill also increases the fines that NHTSA can seek from an automaker.
In the Toyota case, NHTSA could have fined Toyota $13.8 billion for
failing to notify regulators of a defect, but a statutory cap cut the
penalty to $16.4 million, agency officials said.
The bill does not allow for criminal penalties for automakers that
knowingly violate safety laws, however, a sanction that advocates said
was necessary to ensure compliance.
"Recent vehicle recalls underscore the need to ensure the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration has the resources, expertise, and
authority it needs to protect consumers from vehicle safety defects,"
Waxman said in a statement.