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Legislative focus: crash prevention, recalls and clean air

National legislators have long been trying to get car manufacturers to produce vehicles that are more environmentally friendly and that better protect their drivers and passengers, respectively.

At first blush, that might reasonably seem to be a bifurcated focus, with those topic areas not having any readily perceivable overlap.

Congressional members of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee have come up with an interesting twist, though, that has somehow managed to tie those two concerns together, while at the same time seeking to entice car makers to act through employment of a carrot-rather-than-stick approach.

Here's what was recently suggested on Capitol Hill in the form of a draft proposal that could alternatively be enacted into law in the future in basically its present form, tweaked further by additional congressional and industry input, or ultimately rejected as a practical idea.

To wit: Automakers that begin implementing several designated safety-promoting technologies in their new vehicle models from 2018 will receive pollution-reduction credits that save them serious bucks.

The tie-in: Proponents say that, because technologies like crash-avoidance systems and lane-departure warnings help drivers avoid accidents, fewer crashes do indeed result. That in turn curbs the number of traffic jams around accident areas that would otherwise occur, cutting down on noxious emissions

The happy result: Cleaner air and fewer accidents.

Legislators are also eyeing changes to the nation's recall notification system that they believe would promote safety for New York motorists and other drivers across the country. One proposal is that the safety recalls currently sent by first-class mail be augmented by email notifications to affected parties. Another recommendation would require parts suppliers to furnish government regulators with part-identifying information relevant to defective products being recalled.

Time will tell regarding the proposal's ultimate fate. We will timely advise readers of any material developments that arise.

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