Toyota's
very public recall problems have cast light on what critics suggest is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's sometimes cozy relationship with automakers. A new report in The Detroit News shows that new legislation is being proposed that aims to curb workers transitioning between the government agency and the automakers which NHTSA oversees. On Wednesday, Senator Barbara Boxer of California (above) introduced legislation that would increase the amount of time NHTSA employees would have to wait to work for an automaker to three years. The legislation, if passed, would reportedly only block NHTSA employees from working with OEMs in any capacity that included oral or written interaction with the government agency.

The Democrat senator called the movement of employees from NHTSA to OEMs a "revolving door," giving automakers "undue influence on agency decisions." Violators of the proposed requirements could face a fine of up to $55,000, while automakers could be fined $100,000 or more.

The legislation comes after news of some automakers hiring ex-NHTSA employees became public knowledge. In the case of Toyota's unintended acceleration recalls, it was discovered that two ex-NHTSA employees working at Toyota were directly involved with the administration's investigation into possible safety defects. Ex-NHTSA head Joan Claybrook said in a prepared statement delivered to the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection that all three domestic automakers as well as Honda and Suzuki were among the automakers hiring workers from the government agency.

[Source: The Detroit News | Image: Alex Wong/Getty]