Personal Injury Lawyers Jonesboro, Arkansas

Higher Fines for Vehicle Defects Aim to Prevent Jonesboro Car Accidents

Arkansas auto accident attorneyVehicle defects are dangerous and manufactures should do everything they can to avoid releasing cars with problem parts or component that do not work. If a car manufacturer does discover a problem, the company should quickly act to notify the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as well as consumers.

Evidence suggests, however, many car manufacturers are not doing their part to ensure the roads are kept safe. Car companies are sometimes intentionally releasing cars with known problems. One example of this is GM vehicles released with faulty ignition switches, even though evidence suggests the company knew for a long time there was a problem with the ignitions shutting off.

In an effort to prevent car accidents caused by vehicle defects, the United States Senate has passed legislation aimed at tripling the maximum fine automakers would pay for violations of motor safety regulations. Fines imposed by the government are separate from any financial costs associated with civil lawsuits crash victims file against car companies when accidents cause harm.

Higher Fines Could Make Auto Makers More Likely to Act Quickly to Prevent Crashes

Claims Journal reported that the proposed legislation aimed at making automakers face greater financial responsibilities for vehicle defects. The legislation was included as part of a six-year surface transportation policy bill. After tripling the current fine, the new maximum amount an automaker could be assessed for a defective vehicle would be $105 million.   The chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee commented the goal of the higher fines would "advance auto safety."

The bill included bipartisan compromises, and also incorporated changes Democrats had suggested to increase funds for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigations into vehicle defects.

The bill also prohibited cars from being rented if the vehicles had safety defects which had not been repaired and included a proposal to require dealers to run a recall check when consumers come in to undergo routine service on their cars. Rental car defects have been a major concern for safety advocates for a long time, as people have been killed operating rental cars that had been recalled but not repaired or taken off the road.

Although tripling fines could encourage more prompt action and better safety efforts by auto makers, there are some consumer advocates and lawmakers who do not believe these proposals go far enough in seeking to prevent car accidents caused by dangerous vehicles. The Transportation Department had suggested increasing the maximum fine for automakers to $300 million, and one Senator proposed lifting the cap on fines entirely. The Senate also previously rejected attempts to impose criminal consequences for auto executives who were aware of safety defects and who knowingly hid information.

While the current bill passed the senate, it is not clear if it will pass the House of Representatives or be signed by the President. In the meantime, even the harsher measures contained within it remain something that might happen in the future.

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