FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 29, 2018
Contact: Eric Naing 202-408-1711, cell: 217-493-8294, firstname.lastname@example.org
Statement of Cathy Chase,
President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety,
On Labor Day Weekend Travel
Holiday Weekend Presents Risk to Millions of Travelers on the Road – Take Precautions to Protect All Families Enjoying End-of-Summer Road Trips
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) urges drivers hitting the road for one last summer road trip over Labor Day weekend to ensure that it is a safe one. Use common sense if you are driving: obey the speed limit, make sure everyone is properly buckled up, turn off and put away distracting devices, don’t drink and drive, and wear a helmet if you’re on a motorcycle. More people are predicted to be taking to the road this weekend, which means a greater risk of deadly crashes. Now is the time for elected officials, who are preparing for the upcoming legislative sessions, to commit to advancing available, proven solutions and enact lifesaving laws that prevent crashes, deaths and injuries.
In 2018, several states showed leadership to advance optimal traffic safety laws:
- Illinois enacted a law requiring children to remain in a rear-facing safety seat until age two. Virginia and Nebraska also enacted similar laws.
- Nebraska passed a law requiring children to remain in a booster seat until age eight.
- Idaho and Iowa enacted a law requiring all drunk driving offenders to use an ignition interlock device to ensure they are sober before starting a vehicle.
Despite these promising developments, states across the Nation and the District of Columbia are still missing over 400 critical safety laws. Advocates’ 2018 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws is an essential guide for governors, state lawmakers and safety advocates to identify these dangerous safety gaps. As summer ends and back to school season begins, state leaders should study the missing laws in their books and make a lesson plan to pass them in the 2019 legislative session.
Moreover, proven vehicle safety technologies such as automatic emergency braking (AEB), automated enforcement systems, and rear seat belt reminders continue to be sidelined. The U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) is significantly overdue in issuing a number of safety standards that could be saving lives right now. While these technological advances languish, the U.S. Senate is considering rushing through a flawed bill (AV START Act, S. 1885) to allow massive deployment of experimental autonomous vehicles (AVs). Auto and tech companies have generated an artificial rush to move this legislation under the guise that AVs will be a panacea to eliminate traffic deaths and injuries. While Advocates has always been pro-technology when it has been proven to enhance safety and certainly hopes the long-term potential for AVs to reduce crashes is realized, self-driving vehicles that can safely handle all driving conditions are still a while down the road. We urge the Senate to pump the brakes on the AV START Act until common-sense improvements are made. This dangerous bill would allow companies to sell, not just test, potentially millions of AVs exempt from federal safety rules and does not require necessary standards to ensure the safe and reliable performance of this nascent technology. Moreover, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has open, in-progress crash investigations involving automated driving technology which should help inform Congress of needed safety measures so that dangerous and deadly mistakes are not repeated. In fact, a recent public opinion poll showed that 80% of those surveyed believe the NTSB investigations will be helpful in identifying problems and recommending improvements. And, 84% believe the NTSB should complete these investigations before Congress takes action.
According to the most recent information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle crash fatalities topped 37,000 in 2016. Preliminary data puts us on pace to yet again suffer unacceptably high numbers of traffic fatalities in 2017 and 2018. Fortunately, we already know how to stop this deadly epidemic: proven safety technology should be standard equipment and essential traffic safety laws should be adopted. This Labor Day, Advocates urges elected officials to honor the labor movement by taking action to reduce motor vehicle crashes, the leading cause of death in workplaces.