FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 10, 2021
CONTACT: Pete Daniels / firstname.lastname@example.org / 301-442-2249 (C)
Statement of Cathy Chase, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates), On Advancement of the INVEST in America Act (H.R. 3684)
Today the House of Representatives moved one step closer to advancing proven solutions to address the persistently high motor vehicle crash fatality and injury toll. The Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act (H.R. 3684), passed by the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on a bipartisan vote, includes provisions to produce meaningful safety gains, especially in the areas of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) and protecting vulnerable road users including pedestrians and bicyclists.
Earlier this month the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued startling new statistics showing motor vehicle crash fatalities in 2020 reached an estimated 38,680, a 13-year high that came despite a drop in traffic from the previous year. This is a seven percent increase from 2019 and represents a 23 percent increase in the traffic fatality rate. Observed increases in impaired driving, speeding and failure to wear seat belts drove the fatality increase, according to NHTSA. Nearly 5,000 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks, and 6,205 pedestrians and 846 bicyclists were killed. These preventable tragedies impact communities across our nation and require a robust response from Congress as it works to enact must-pass surface transportation legislation this year.
Proven safety technology and comprehensive state traffic safety laws are life-saving solutions. Of particular importance are advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) including automatic emergency braking (AEB). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety determined that CMVs equipped with forward collision warning (FCW) and AEB experience 44 and 41 percent fewer rear-end crashes respectively. Additionally, cars with FCW and AEB experienced a 50 percent decrease in front-to-rear crashes. While the INVEST in America Act required AEB in trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds, it created a deadly gap by not requiring this game-changing technology in all new trucks. Additionally, the bill included a few anti-truck safety, special interest provisions that erode the foundation of the federal truck size and weight limits.
Positive provisions in the legislation include improvements to: truck underride guards; the federal truck safety and accountability system; school bus safety; pedestrian and bicyclist safety; limousine safety; prevent drug and alcohol impaired driving; support use of automated enforcement systems to curb speeding; and, screening for obstructive sleep apnea for truck drivers. Additionally, dangerous anti-safety amendments listed in our “Safety Scorecard” were defeated.
Advocates commends Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR, 4th), Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chair Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee Chair Donald Payne (D-NJ, 10th) for their continued leadership on this legislation, which carries forward many of the safety provisions included in landmark transportation legislation advanced by the U.S. House during the last session of Congress (The Moving Forward Act, H.R. 2). We also laud those members who offered and supported amendments to strengthen the bill.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is an alliance of consumer, medical, public health, law enforcement, and safety groups and insurance companies and agents working together to improve road safety in the U.S. Advocates’ mission is the adoption of federal and state laws, policies and programs that prevent motor vehicle crashes, save lives, reduce injuries, and contain costs.