Whistleblower protections included in Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010

Members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on May 19 reviewed legislation aimed at establishing new automobile safety standards, making better motor vehicle safety information available, and giving auto industry employees whistleblower protections, among other purposes.

The Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010 (S. 3302) (.pdf file), introduced May 4 by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), addresses Toyota's recent braking problems on certain vehicles. In his opening statements, Rockefeller said the legislation would:

  • Dramatically raise civil penalties for auto manufacturers that violate vehicle safety standards or withhold critical safety information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Require disclosure of more safety information to consumers, and mandate NHTSA make its vehicle safety databases more accessible
  • Give auto industry employees the same whistleblower protections as airline employees
  • Increase NHTSA's authorization levels so it can hire the engineers and safety experts it needs to regulate today's computerized vehicle fleet
  • Create minimum safety standards for vehicle electronics

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