The bill, sponsored by Republican John Thune and Democrat
Bill Nelson, "is intended to incentivize whistleblowers from the
automotive sector to voluntarily provide information to the U.S.
Department of Transportation to prevent deaths and serious
physical injuries by identifying problems much earlier than
would have otherwise been possible," Thune's spokeswoman, AshLee
The measure will cover “original information” not previously
known to the government "relating to any motor vehicle defect,
noncompliance, or any violation of any reporting requirement
that is likely to cause risk of death or serious physical
injury," Strong's statement added.
The Senate holds a hearing on Thursday into how regulators and
the auto industry have handled a rapidly expanding recall of
millions of potentially defective air bags manufactured by
Japan's Takata Corp.
Safety advocates have criticized the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration for not responding more quickly to years
of evidence about the deadly defect.
The top U.S. auto safety regulator was similarly criticized for
its sluggish response to more than a decade of evidence that
millions of General Motors Co vehicles were equipped with a
potentially deadly ignition switch flaw.
Under the Thune-Nelson bill, the transportation secretary would
have the discretion to award whistleblowers up to 30 percent of
monetary penalties from U.S. enforcement actions totaling more
than $1 million. The measure would cover employees or
contractors of automakers, parts suppliers and dealerships.
(Reporting by Peter Cooney; Editing by Ken Wills)
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