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U.S. Senate introduces vehicle safety bill

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Aug. 11, 2011 – A vehicle safety bill has been introduced this morning in Congress by the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, U.S. Sen. John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.)

The bill is titled, “Motor Vehicle and Highway Safety Improvement Act of 2011,” and includes broadening the authority of the Secretary of Transportation to conduct motor vehicle safety research and analyze motor vehicle and highway safety data to determine the relationship between motor vehicle and motor vehicle performance characteristics.

The legislation requires that the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) conduct a Study of Crash Data Collection and report, after one year, to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, on the quality of data collected through the National Automotive Sampling System, including the Special Crash Investigations Program. The administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will then conduct a comprehensive review of the data elements collected from each crash to determine if additional data should be collected. This review will include input from interested parties, including suppliers, automakers, safety advocates, research organizations and the medical community.

Another section, titled “NHTSA Electronics, Software and Engineering Expertise,” discusses efforts to further explore green methods. This will include a council to research the inclusion of emerging lightweight plastic and composite technologies in motor vehicles to increase fuel efficiency, lower emissions, meet fuel economy standards and enhance passenger motor vehicle safety through continued use of the administration’s Plastic and Composite Intensive Vehicle Safety Roadmap.

Finally, the bill requires that “Vehicle Event Data Recorders” include information regarding vehicle data recorders and privacy provisions specifications. Beginning with model year 2015, new passenger motor vehicles sold in the United States are to be equipped with a vehicle event data recorder. The bill’s language includes that any data in an event recorder, regardless of when it was manufactured, is the property of the owner or lessee of the passenger motor vehicle in which the data recorder is installed.

It also states that data recorded or transmitted by a data recorder may not be retrieved by anyone other than the owner or lessee of the vehicle unless by court authorization, consent of the vehicle owner or lessee, for the purpose of an investigation under Section 30166 of title 49 or the purpose of determining the need for or facilitating an emergency crash.

This information was provided byt the Automotive Service Association. For additional information about ASA, including past news release_notess, go to, or visit ASA’s legislative website at

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