Two US Senators have introduced a new bill on Capitol Hill which seeks to minimize the chances for a delay between the detection of a potentially hazardous vehicle fault, and its report to the NHTSA.
The mechanism to accomplish this goal? Financial incentive, obviously.
This news comes to us from The Detroit News. The proposed bill would do three major things:
- It would do away with the current $35 million upper limit on what automakers can be fined by the NHTSA for delaying recalls.
- It would hike the maximum per-vehicle fine from $5,000, to $25,000.
- It would make employed and contracted whistleblowers eligible for up to 30 percent of the total NHTSA fine if they submit original information that leads to a prosecution.
That last point applies to persons who are either contracted or employed, by the automaker, a parts supplier, or a dealership. In addition, the bill would double the NHTSA’s funding, and enable the administration to prosecute wrongdoers for up to life in prison if it is discovered that their conduct resulted in death or serious injury.
Of course, it must be demonstrated that the whistleblower in-question first reported the identified safety issue to management before taking it to the NHTSA; the goal is to dissuade automakers from delaying recalls. This is the first significant proposed vehicle safety reform legislation with backing from a top Republican. If there is any hurdle to its passing, it is likely that upper management could be sentenced to life in a federal prison.
Something about the thought of a rich, white-collar executive behind bars for life seems to make people queasy.