1. Zoom out from member of the committee to Head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, David Strickland, being sworn in
2. Wide of Strickland being sworn in
3. SOUNDBITE: (English) David Strickland, Head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
"And they actually executed their stop sale on January the 21st. That effort was because of the analysis of NHTSA, the fast action of the career staff, and the leadership of the Secretary of Transportation. So, I don''t see Toyota as an indicative example of failure, I see it as NHTSA doing its job. And, when our professionals use the data, make the case, and go forward, we get the results that we need."
4. Wide of committee members offering question
5. SOUNDBITE: (English) David Strickland, Head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
"And from my review of the work done, if we''re talking about Toyota specifically, this agency opened eight separate investigations over the time period when there were complaints about sudden acceleration. A lap dog doesn''t open eight investigations. Now, the goal is for us, and our statutory, you know, order is to find any vehicle safety defect that presents an unreasonable risk."
6. Wide of committee members
North Hollywood, California - March 11, 2010
7. Various exteriors of Toyota dealer show room
8. SOUNDBITE: (English) Vox Pop, Denise Hines, Toyota Owner:
"To be perfectly honest, I did one stop shopping when I came here to buy a Toyota. That''s how much confidence I had. But the, I want to call it, the media blitz, put a little bit of doubt in my mind. I was, just a little bit. So once I got it now fixed, I feel fine again."
9. SOUNDBITE: (English) Vox Pop, Corey Williams, Toyota Owner:
"My big concern was the brakes. Yeah, I''m very confident though, it''s a good car."
10. Exterior of car dealer show room lot
11. Toyota Matrix car on dealer lot
12. Toyota cars on sales lot
Silver Spring, Maryland - March 11, 2010
13. Wide exterior of Toyota dealership, zoom in to sign
14. Pan of cars to Tammy Darvish, Vice President - DARCARS Automotive Group walks in front of camera
"It''s alarming that there''s still that much confusion out there, so we''re having people experiencing problems with cars that the recalls has nothing to do with. So, I think what Toyota is doing in immediately sending a tech team and NHTSA getting involved and they''re inspecting these vehicles now as we speak, I think we''ll see that these vehicles are safe and Toyota''s just making them safer."
US government vehicle safety regulators may seek greater authority to investigate defects in cars and trucks and are weighing a range of new safety requirements in response to Toyota''s recall of more than eight (m) million vehicles over brake and acceleration problems.
David Strickland, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA, said on Thursday that his agency will take a "hard look" at the power it has to set safety standards for automakers.
Current authority, acquired in the 1960s and 1970s, may not be enough to oversee the technology used in modern vehicles, he said.
The government may also require automakers to include brake override systems, a fix intended to prevent the type of runaway car incidents that
some Toyota drivers have described, Strickland said.
It would ensure that a driver stepping on the brakes can slow the vehicle even if the gas pedal is stuck or malfunctioning.
Strickland said the agency will consider mandating event data recorders, or vehicle "black boxes," which typically record data about whether the
brake or accelerator pedals were depressed at the time of a crash.
About 60 percent of vehicles already have the technology.
He also vowed to look closely at push-button start and stop technologies to ensure that drivers can easily turn their cars off during an emergency.
Thursday''s hearing of a panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee was the fourth in US Congress related to Toyota''s massive recalls for problems with faulty gas pedals and brake problems.
The committee was focused on the transportation safety agency''s oversight of the auto industry, which has been criticised for being too lax on automakers.
Under questioning from lawmakers, Strickland defended his agency''s handling of the Toyota recalls and took exception to criticism that it is a
"lapdog" of the industry, noting it opened eight investigations into reports of sudden unintended acceleration in Toyotas.
Strickland did say he believed NHTSA acted with appropriate diligence in contacting Toyota with consumer concerns.
The US Congress is considering legislation following Toyota''s recalls to fix problems with accelerator pedals and brakes.
Strickland''s agency has tied 52 deaths to crashes allegedly caused by the accelerator problems, and received new complaints from owners who had their cars fixed and said their vehicles suddenly accelerated afterward.
The US Transportation Department has defended its work in policing the auto industry, noting that it dispatched safety officials to Japan late last year to urge the company to take safety concerns seriously.
Toyota president Akio Toyoda recently met Transportation Secretary LaHood and told him the company would "advance safety to the next level."