YONKERS, N.Y. (AP) -- The publisher of Consumer Reports asked the government Tuesday for stronger vehicle regulations in the wake of the Toyota debacle.
The nonprofit Consumers Union said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration should mandate that vehicles be able to stop within a reasonable distance once the brakes are applied, even if the throttle is open.
The traffic safety agency also should mandate a minimum distance between the gas pedal and the floor board, while all vehicles should come equipped with "simple, standard" controls to shut off a runaway vehicle.
Consumers Union's plea came as officials at Toyota Motor Corp. were preparing to testify before Congress Tuesday on its handling of recalls affecting more than 8 million vehicles. The recalls, mostly over complaints of uncontrollable acceleration, have tarnished the automaker's reputation for safety.
Consumers Union also called on the traffic safety agency to lift its $16.4 million cap on civil penalties for safety violations. The agency also needs additional funding and staff, and its database of consumer safety complaints needs to be "dramatically improved," the nonprofit said.
Auto manufacturers, for their part, should make more advanced safety features, such as electronic stability control and curtain air bags, standard across their lineup, Consumers Union said. They should also more actively publicize safety-related complaints collected from consumers.