US: regulators seek increased recall pace image

Both members of the Congress and the Obama administration want besides bigger fines for automakers an increased authority base to be given to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The lawmakers are seeking a larger set of rules that would ensure unsafe cars are swiftly taken off the streets, while the automakers are deterred through increased scrutiny and higher fines. Congress members also mull a larger NHTSA budget, more investigators; while a separate measure would see imprisonment sentences for auto executives that keep silent on deadly safety defects.

“The administration has clearly been taking a much more aggressive approach when it comes to holding automakers accountable,” says acting NHTSA administrator David Friedman. “We shouldn’t need to push automakers to put safety first,” he added.

So far, after news broke out of the GM debacle with the handling of the ignition switch, all automakers embarked on intense safety scrutiny – leading to a record 40 million vehicles recall in just seven months. Of course, the No.1 US automaker leads the pack here, with almost 26 million cars recalled in the US alone. The automakers were not the only ones panned for the ongoing safety crisis though, as the federal safety agency also faced criticism for not acting faster on several issues in recent years.