WASHINGTON (Nov. 16, 2000)—President Clinton has called the recently enacted Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act "an important first step toward strengthening our nation´s motor vehicle safety laws." Vigorous and quick implementation of the law´s information disclosure provisions, he said, "will help save lives and prevent injuries."
The President said the measure "responds directly to some of the key shortcomings in identifying the recent Firestone tire problem. Some of the deaths and injuries associated with these tires might have been prevented if automobile manufacturers and their suppliers had been required to provide the government with more timely information about potential safety defects."
In signing of the bill, Nov. 1, the president also said he has directed the Secretary of Transportation to implement the information disclosure requirements of the TREAD Act "in a manner that assures maximum public availability of information."
Passed by wide majorities in both houses of Congress, the so-called TREAD act, among other things:
*Requires tire and auto executives to notify the government within five days of a foreign safety recall and "customer satisfaction" programs. It sets maximum penalties of 15 years in prison for executives who try to cover up deadly or injurious defects;
*Orders the federal government to revise the 32-year-old tire safety standard and establish rollover testing procedures for vehicles; and
*Mandates dashboard indicators to warn motorists of low tire pressure.
Tire and auto industry spokesmen say the provisions of the new law, though not ideal from their standpoint, are livable. But consumer advocates excoriate the TREAD Act because it gives executives a chance to escape criminal penalties and rejects a provision for auto makers to evaluate the data on their vehicles to determine whether they are defective.