Leading Auto Safety Advocate, Chair of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, Slams Senate Infrastructure Bill for Weak Safety Provisions
Senate Urged to Add Lifesaving Car, Bus and Truck Safety Provisions to Curb Preventable Death and Injury on Nation’s Roadways
WASHINGTON (PRWEB) August 03, 2021 — Below is a statement by Joan Claybrook, former Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Chair of Citizens for Reliable and Safety Highways (CRASH), on critical highway and vehicle safety deficiencies in the bipartisan transportation and infrastructure bill that will soon be voted on by the U.S. Senate which will result in the continuation of thousands of preventable deaths and injuries on U.S. roadways.In her statement, Ms. Claybrook urgently calls on the U.S. Senate leadership to strengthen the infrastructure bill by adding numerous available, affordable and lifesaving car, truck and school bus safety measures that would dramatically reduce the Nation’s highway death and injury toll.
STATEMENT OF JOAN CLAYBROOK
“The Senate bipartisan infrastructure bill will result in thousands of deaths and horrible injuries needlessly occurring on our Nation’s streets and highways for years because it disregards cost-effective requirements included in the House-passed bill.
“The Senate bill is a safety mirage. It may look good from a distance but up close the safety improvements are often just an illusion. In area after area, the Senate bill is seriously deficient by omitting critical lifesaving requirements or taking the teeth out of the standard setting for protective systems by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Worthless studies are substituted for mandating regulatory action by NHTSA or safety requirements are weakened to accommodate special industry interests.
“There is an urgent need for new federal motor vehicle safety standards for all new cars and trucks. Crash avoidance technologies, including automatic emergency braking (AEB) promise to save thousands of lives from distracted, tired, drugged, and drunk drivers. These systems must be required as standard equipment in all new cars and trucks and detect and respond to pedestrians, bicyclists, and other vulnerable road users. The Senate bill fails to include a date certain for completing the rulemaking and compliance for cars and a compliance date for large trucks. Without a statutory deadline no federal rule may ever be issued in these toothless Senate provisions.
“Additionally, there is also a need to upgrade with firm deadlines several current safety requirements for headlamps, hood and bumpers and seat back strength. These safety standards are outdated and need to be improved to reflect available and more effective technology. For example, the federal performance standard for seat back strength is more than 50 years old and needs to be stronger to prevent failure in rear end crashes resulting in the driver and front passenger seat backs falling rearward and killing children in the rear seat. The Senate bill only requires that the agency take steps to begin the regulatory process when already there are studies and real-world evidence showing that the existing seat back standard is deadly and needs to be upgraded immediately.
“A requirement in the Senate bill for technology to detect babies and young children left unattended in hot cars is inadequate and serves to accommodate the auto industry instead of public safety. Over 1000 tiny human beings have died since 1990 because the auto industry has cruelly refused to install available systems that both detect the presence of a child and alert the driver after promising to do so almost 20 years ago. More advanced detection and alert systems would cost as little as $10 and could save the life of a child.
“The Senate infrastructure bill also falls short on addressing other safety problems when solutions are readily available. Distracted driving is a major cause of crashes, deaths, and injuries. A safety standard for driver monitoring systems that detect driver inattention is essential with compliance by a date certain. Similarly, a federal rule is needed for keyless ignition systems to prevent unintended rollaway incidents and for truck front and side underride guards.
“The New Car Assessment Program, a major information program that rates vehicle performance in crash tests, requires a comprehensive overhaul by a date certain so that consumers can rely on its accuracy, and it should address the safety of vulnerable road users.
“Every day, millions of school children are transported on school buses. School bus crashes may be rare, but they are sharing the streets with large trucks and other buses and can be deadly when they do occur because of inadequate safety requirements. Rather than require school buses to be equipped with safety technologies like seat belts, better lighting, warning systems, fire suppressions systems, and more, the Senate bill merely wants to conduct more studies and a feel-good public information campaign.
“Lastly, reckless policies that would permit teenagers to operate a big rig in interstate commerce and provisions that further erode hours-of-service rules on our nation’s roads to the risk of families and at increased taxpayer expense are in the Senate bill. Commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers under the age of 19 are four times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes, and CMV drivers between the ages of 19-20 are six times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes than all truck drivers. Furthermore, truck driver fatigue has been identified as a major contributor to truck crashes by the National Transportation Safety Board and yet trucking interests are relentless in their push for longer driving and working hours and exemptions from federal rules.
“The Senate infrastructure legislation is a disgrace in terms of ignoring the public desire and appreciation for highway and vehicle safety. It placates the auto industry’s objections to investing a minor amount of money to prevent crashes and save lives as well as prioritizes the trucking industry’s economic agenda. In short, it is shameful.”
Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways http://www.trucksafety.org