National Consumers League

NCL lauds House Committee’s adoption of the Omnibus Motor Vehicle Safety Act

June 29, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—This past week, the House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee Majority adopted a comprehensive package of long overdue measures, 21st Century Smart Cars Act (H.R. 6284).

“NCL supports the 21st Century Smart Cars Act (H.R. 6284). 36,120 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes last year,” said Sally Greenberg, National Consumers League executive director. “The Motor Vehicle Safety Title will help to bring these numbers down and protect all road users in and out of cars.”

Today, NCL joined a diverse coalition of groups in signing a letter to the House of Representatives to express support for the Motor Vehicle Safety Title and other pro-safety provisions in the infrastructure and surface transportation reauthorization legislation.

NCL thanks Chair Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) for their leadership. “We urge Congress to advance these important safety measures and reduce crashes, fatalities, and injuries,” said Greenberg.

The following technologies and measures were passed as part of the Motor Vehicle Safety Title:

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems to Avoid Collisions

Automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning, and blind spot warning are current technologies that can reduce and mitigate crashes; however, they aren’t required as standard equipment or subject to minimum performance requirements today. We think they should be, and this bill will get that done. Safety features should not be reserved only for the rich and affluent.

New Car Assessment Program to Bolster Consumer Information

Over four decades ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) established an auto safety consumer information program, the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). NCAP requires crash testing and ratings for new vehicles. It has been replicated in nations across the globe. Unfortunately, our U.S. NCAP has not kept pace with new technologies and now seriously lags behind its international counterparts. We are pleased that HR 6256 incorporates enhancements to NCAP in the Five-Stars for Safe Cars Act

Advanced Technology to Reduce Impaired Driving

Drunk driving remains a leading killer on America’s roads, representing nearly one-third of all fatalities. Technology can prevent drunk driving by equipping vehicles with technology to provide alerts or even shut down a vehicle if necessary.

Thanks to Representative Debbie Dingell (D- MI) for leading the charge by introducing the Honoring Abbas Family Legacy to Terminate Drunk Driving (“HALT Drunk Driving”) Act (H.R. 4354). We also recognize the tireless work of families working to eliminate drunk driving.

Unattended Occupant Detection and Alert Systems to Prevent Hot Car Deaths
In 2018 and 2019, over 100 children died as a result of being unknowingly left in a vehicle or accessing the vehicle independently and inadvertently trapping themselves inside. This is a year-round problem afflicting loving, caring, responsible parents and caregivers. Fortunately, systems that can detect and warn of the presence of an occupant are available, affordable, and would be required in all new vehicles if the Motor Vehicle Safety Title is enacted into law.

For years, NCL has joined with KidsAndCars.org in calling for mandatory technology in all cars to alert drivers that there’s a child or pet in the vehicle.  The technology is affordable and available. The devasting toll year in and year out – including just this week in Springfield, MA with the death of an 11 month old girl in a hot car – is totally avoidable.  Public education and industry promises don’t save kids’ lives. Technology does. We thank Chair Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Reps. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Peter King (R-NY) for championing the Hot Cars Act (H.R. 3593) and the Committee for including the bill in their Motor Vehicle Safety Title.

Mitigating Against Risks of Keyless Ignition Technology

Keyless ignition systems, also known as push-button starts, became standard equipment in nearly two-thirds of vehicles sold in 2018, according to Edmunds. As this technology has become more prevalent, two potentially deadly safety risks have been identified: carbon monoxide poisoning and vehicle rollaway. Though offering convenience, it’s easy to leave a vehicle running inadvertently with this technology. Without proper safeguards, this can have tragic consequences. The “Protecting Americans from the Risks of Keyless Ignition Technology (“PARK IT”) Act (H.R. 3145)”  would address this hazard by requiring cut off technology and other features;  we applaud that it has been added to the Motor Vehicle Safety Title and thank Chair Schakowsky, Reps. Darren Soto (D-FL), Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA) for introducing this legislation.

Improving Limousine Safety

Limousines, used for the most iconic and celebratory of events, sadly aren’t subject to rigorous safety standards today and tragic loss of life has ensued. HR 4708, the Safety, Accountability, and Federal Enforcement of Limos (“SAFE”) Act, introduced by Reps. Paul Tonko (D-NY), Antonio Delgado (D-NY) and Elise Stefanik (R- NY), is incorporated into the Motor Vehicle Safety Title, and would implement safety requirements recommended by the NTSB, closing loopholes that put limo passengers at serious risk.

Conclusion

NCL applauds the legislative leaders and consumer advocates who have spent many decades addressing vehicle safety. Since 1960, more than 600,000 lives have been saved by motor vehicle safety technology, as estimated by NHTSA in 2015. Enacting the omnibus measures that are part of the Motor Vehicle Safety Title will further protect consumers in and around motor vehicles and reduce deaths and injuries. We also applaud the action taken by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the surface reauthorization package for providing commonsense highway and auto safety advances. As the legislative process moves forward, NCL joins other advocates in applauding the Committee’s work and providing input on this important legislation.

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July 2 addendum: NCL issued this statement on the House Energy and Commerce bill and then yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed this significant piece of legislation that will make our roads and highways safer for all, if enacted into law. We implore the Senate to move forward with these reasonable, established safety improvements as quickly as possible.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.