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Kicking Tires: Senate moves forward on auto safety bill, texting ban

The U.S. Senate's Commerce Committee moved ahead on two key pieces of legislation affecting car safety, approving them for a full vote later this summer.

The Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010 would boost funding to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, mandate the installation of black boxes and fail-safe systems for brakes to override the accelerator, and raise the cap for automaker fines to $300 million.

A second bill would make $120 million in federal highway funding available to states that enact distracted driver laws, which create penalties for people who talk or text on cell phones while driving. The bill received several "no" votes from Republicans who said it would take away states' rights to construct their own distracted driver laws.

The comprehensive safety bill will likely face a much steeper path to passage than the less controversial texting and talking ban, but in a Congress divided on nearly every issue, nothing is a sure thing.

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