Caused chiefly due to faults which recalled millions of American Toyota vehicles, the United States House Energy and Commerce Committee devised an Act which could bring some sweeping changes not only to the issue of unattended vehicle acceleration but to the whole recall process.
Not yet law, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010 contains provisions aimed at tightly regulate electronic vehicle control features as well as deepening the authority of the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Receiving a 31-21 vote in favour of the Act within its first hurtle (the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee) the major component to this proposed legislation would legally require all vehicles sold in the United States to be equipped with brake override systems. Rising to notoriety through the events of the sticking throttles of various Toyota products, brake override would assist drivers in countering the effects of unintended acceleration.
On the day of the congress vote, one auto company was quick to issue a statement in anticipation of the revised government mandates. Honda’s American arm in a press release Wednesday expressed their commitment to have brake override systems installed in some vehicles starting in August with the safety going fleet-wide for Honda and Acura after 2011. An important announcement made by the Japanese auto maker, other automakers have also pledged to install brake override systems. In early April, General Motors made a worldwide initiate to have brake override installed in all their vehicles equipped with automatic gearboxes and electronic throttle control.
Beyond pressuring all automobiles to install the emergency braking aid, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010 also wants automakers to add automotive event data recorders or black boxes into new vehicles. What may surprise some is that some vehicles, including most General Motors and Ford products, built in the past decade have been equipped already integrated black boxes into a vehicle’s ECU (Electronic Control Unit). While event data recorders have led to some landmark convictions in recent years, some drivers feel uneasy about their privacy. If the Act enters law, there will likely be some standard serving as a middle ground between privacy and collecting relevant car accident data.
As a final effort placed forth in the U.S. House’s Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010 is increased funding and power to the NHTSA. Requesting increased authority in detecting potential vehicle problems, the NHTSA is to be provided greater resources at a price common American motorists will undoubtedly feel. Certain to be a cost passed down to the consumers, the plan is to acquire a fee from each auto manufacturer.
While passing the House committee, this bill needs next to pass a vote by the United States Congress on route to become law. This could take the final vote on the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010 into the fall.
With the automobile existing as one of the most complex consumer products sold, stringent safety standard are ultimately a necessary evil. However, it seems only prudent to suggest from the voice of a car enthusiast that the automobile itself isn’t an evil.
Information Source: U.S. House of Representatives, Toyota, Honda, General Motors
Photo Source: Chris Nagy