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Congress' response to GM's deadly ignition switch defect (2 of 2)

Welcome back. In our last post we began discussing the Vehicle Safety Improvement Act, a bill that has been introduced by members of the House of Representatives in response to General Motors' deadly ignition switch defect, which is believed to have caused at least 12 deaths.

As much as we would like to believe that automakers truly have the public's best interests in mind, events like the ignition switch recall suggest otherwise. Sadly, in many situations it is more economical for auto companies to keep quiet on defective auto parts and pay off victims in product liability lawsuits than issuing a recall of millions of vehicles.

Congress would like to change that.

The Vehicle Safety Improvement Act would give the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration more power to punish automakers who attempt to hide dangerous defects and force them to provide more information on potential threats to public safety. It would also give the public more information on recalls and vehicle safety.

"The bill empowers consumers and holds auto manufacturers accountable for illegal behavior that all too often leads to tragedy," one of the lawmakers who sponsored the bill said in a statement.

This isn't the only bill that has been introduced on the matter. Last month, a bill was introduced that would take away the damages cap that is currently in place for personal injury lawsuits against companies that violate vehicle safety laws and would provide the NHTSA with much more funding to regulate the laws.

Two other bills seeking to do similar things were also introduced earlier in the year, and the U.S. transportation secretary has asked Congress to at least boost the damages cap to $300 million against automakers who stall on issuing safety recalls.

Ultimately, it is evident that Congress knows something needs to be done to hold automakers responsible for manufacturing dangerous vehicles, and worse yet, remaining silent on the dangers. Hopefully, legislation is passed that helps prevent an event like the deadly ignition switch defect from ever happening again.

Source: Auto News, "House bill proposes tougher auto safety rules ," Ryan Beene, Sept. 18, 2014

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