Statement of Congressman Bruce Braley
Committee on Energy and Commerce
Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection
"Hearing on the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010"
May 6, 2010
Thank you, Chairman Rush and Ranking Member Whitfield, for holding this important hearing today on the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010. In 2008, there were more than 37,000 traffic fatalities. While this is a decrease from 2007, this is still far too many American lives and families destroyed. My home county of Black Hawk, Iowa saw 13 traffic fatalities in 2008, which is 13 too many.
Most recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been questioned regarding their response to the problem of sudden unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles. Since 2000, NHTSA has received 2,600 complaints of sudden unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles. According to NHTSA, in the past decade 34 people have died in crashes alleged to have been caused by sudden unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles. These alarming numbers should have spurred NHTSA to aggressively investigate any problems at Toyota. Instead, NHTSA appears to have conducted only preliminary, inadequate, and ineffective investigations. Particularly throughout the last few months, I've been extremely concerned and disappointed by NHTSA's and Toyota's delayed and insufficient responses to this deadly problem. I am concerned that NHTSA did not act early enough and has only gone through the motions on their investigations of this and other situations.
A primary question that we have heard raised in this Committee is whether NHTSA has the resources and capacity to investigate new and complex systems in vehicles, and to evaluate manufacturers' claims about the operations of their vehicles. I'm confident that the Motor Vehicle Safety Act takes meaningful steps to improve auto safety and strengthen NHTSA by (1) increasing the agency's proficiency in vehicle electronics, and requiring new safety standards for cars run largely by electronic systems; (2)
strengthening enforcement; (3) increasing transparency and accountability in vehicle safety; and (4) providing funding to the agency to further ensure auto safety.
This bill takes great strides towards ensuring proper oversight and resources at NHTSA, and I'm glad we're here today working to improve motor vehicle safety in America. Thank you and I yield back the remainder of my time.