Since the start of 2014, there have been nearly 20 million vehicle safety announcements issued by a long list of automakers around the world. General Motors Co, Toyota, Ford and Chrysler have all issued sizable recalls in the first half of the year; at this pace, the auto industry is on track to set a single year record for U.S. recalls. With growing concerns among consumers and mounting suspicions of automakers, President Obama has sent a bill to Congress that will substantially increase the civil penalties levied against automakers who fail to act swiftly to correct any potentially dangerous defects.
Currently, car manufacturers can be fined up to $35 million in civil penalties for recalls. Earlier this year, the Department of Transportation ordered GM to pay the maximum penalty following a recall of 2 million vehicles for ignition switch problems. The new bill, called the Grow America Act, would substantially increase the maximum fine from $35 million to $300 million for automakers who fail to act promptly on vehicle recalls.
In a public statement, the U.S. Department of Transportation explained that the bill is necessary to protect the public stating “The Grow America Act will strengthen safety regulators' ability to hold automobile manufacturers accountable for defects that can cost lives.”
In addition to increased civil penalties for automakers, the bill would grant the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the authority to require rental car companies or used car dealers to participate in the recall of defective vehicles, ensuring the safety of unsuspecting consumers who may rent or purchase an unsafe vehicle. Several states have pending legislation which would also require that rental car carriers and used car dealers react swiftly to recall notices.
If passed, the bill would give the NHTSA the authority to require automakers to cease the sale of vehicles or repair already sold vehicles that pose an imminent threat to drivers’ safety.
If you’ve been the victim of an unsafe vehicle or have suffered from unfair practices by an automaker or dealer, you need the assistance of an experienced attorney. Attorney Abeel has spent years assisting clients with lemon law matters, breach of warranty cases and instances of dealer fraud. Call our offices at 888-830-1474 to schedule your free consultation.