FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 20, 2021
CONTACT: Pete Daniels / firstname.lastname@example.org / 301-442-2249
Today, Members of Congress, Families of Truck Crash, Distracted Driving Crash, Child “Hot Car” and Seatback Failure Victims, and Safety, Public Health, Law Enforcement, Bicyclist & Consumer Advocates Called on Bipartisan Group of Senators and U.S. Senate to Ensure Safety is Advanced in Any Transportation/Infrastructure Package. House INVEST in America Act Features Safety Improvements and Must Not be Sidelined.
Over the 5-year time span of the bill, over 183,000 people will be killed and 14 million injured in motor vehicle crashes at a cost of more than $5 trillion — unless proven solutions are advanced.
As a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators continue deliberation on comprehensive infrastructure legislation, today Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates), joined by U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce Chair Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), families of truck crash, distracted driving crash, child “hot car” and seatback failure victims, and safety, public health, law enforcement, bicyclist and consumer advocates asserted that the legislation must include vital motor vehicle safety upgrades that will prevent crashes and save lives before being sent to President Biden.
A link to the press event, statements and other materials can be found HERE.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Chair, U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee: “Just like we need transformational policies to tackle the climate crisis and move our infrastructure out of the Eisenhower era, we also need transformational policies to ensure our transportation systems are as safe as possible for all users. My bill, the INVEST in America Act, would do just that by confronting the current safety crisis on America’s roads and moving us out of the status quo. I thank the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety for convening this important discussion today, and I look forward to working with them to make sure Congress gets an infrastructure bill to the president’s desk that rebuilds our transportation systems for the future and dramatically improves safety, equity, and access for all.”
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Chair, U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce: “We are not just talking about roads and bridges, but about investing in auto safety. The House has already passed its bill, the INVEST in America Act. This is a huge step forward for us. The seven safety bills included in the INVEST in America Act will prevent deaths of children in hot cars, counter human error with crash avoidance and impaired driving prevention technology, improve the seat back standard, reduce the impact between vulnerable road users and vehicles, remove dangers associated with keyless ignitions, upgrade the safety of limousines, and enhance the safety of booster seats. I commend Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety for their leadership, the many families who come back year after year to tell their tragic stories and advocate for improvements, and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio for including the safety bills in the INVEST in America Act. It is a transformational package of legislation.”
Cathy Chase, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety: “The infrastructure legislation that is garnering so much attention in the media and across the country is about much more than fixing damaged roads and bridges. It is also about fixing the unacceptable death and injury toll on our roads, helping to prevent other families from struggling with the trauma of losing a loved one in a crash or suffering a debilitating injury, and addressing inequities by requiring available and affordable safety technologies on every new vehicle to protect every person traveling in a car or truck, riding a bicycle, and walking or rolling.”
Joan Claybrook, Former Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and Chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH): “The costs for safety fixes are low but the stakes not to require them are very high. In this infrastructure bill, there’s a giant loophole. Special trucking interests lobbied for a carve-out for small and medium size trucks from the automatic emergency braking (AEB) requirement in the House and Senate bills which addresses large trucks and passenger cars. However, 27 percent of all fatalities in large truck crashes involved these vehicles and they have been on the rise every year from 2016 to 2019. This means the trucks delivering packages and goods in our neighborhoods where children are playing and people are walking, rolling in wheelchairs or biking won’t have AEB. It’s a recipe for disaster. None of this is rocket science or will break the bank. We urge Congress to do its job and pass a bill that protects all road users and ends the needless suffering caused by preventable crashes.”
Amy Cohen (New York), Co-Founder of Families for Safe Streets: “2,842 days. Nearly 41 million minutes. That is how long it has been since I last kissed my kind, adorable 12-year-old son goodbye and then never saw him alive again. He was in 8th grade and just needed to walk from school to soccer practice. That should not be a deadly act. In his memory, I urge Congress to prioritize safety. It is imperative that vehicles be designed to protect children like mine just trying to get around on our streets. All vehicles should have automatic emergency braking (AEB) with an ability to detect those walking and biking who are most vulnerable.”
Michelle and Jason Fraser (Texas): “On behalf of our daughter, Jayden Faith, and the thousands of families that have suffered catastrophic injuries or deaths as a result of preventable seatback failures, today we call on Congress to modernize the seatback standard that for 54 years has failed to protect families like mine. Far too many families will never see their children or loved ones again because they died because of a seatback collapse. We hope the Senate will act quickly to finish what the House has started to help spare even one more family from suffering what my family, and too many others like ours, have had to suffer.”
Tammy Huffman (Michigan), Truck Safety Coalition Volunteer: “On May 6, 2013, my brother-in-law, my husband’s twin brother, Tim Huffman, was killed by a distracted semitruck driver. Tim was a decorated war veteran with 3 tours in Iraq and had served as a military police officer. The semitruck driver was on Facebook at the time of the wreck. The crash into Tim’s police cruiser and subsequent collisions created a wreckage of vehicles that stretched about a mile long – all of which could have been prevented if the truck was equipped with automatic emergency braking (AEB). It is unconscionable that this widely available technology is not standard on all trucks. I am here today to speak for Tim, for my family and for all roadway users. We must have safety provisions like universal AEB in place to avoid these preventable tragedies.”
Angela Jones (Arizona), Kids and Car Safety Volunteer: “It breaks our hearts to know that there is affordable, available technology out there that could have detected our little girl, Charly, in my husband’s vehicle and saved her life by sounding an alarm and sending an alert to his phone. My husband was only 20 feet away from her the entire time she was trapped inside his vehicle. Had he known, he would have done literally anything to protect her. The Hot Cars Act, which is part of the House INVEST in America Act, should be passed immediately so that all vehicles come with this life-saving technology.”
Eileen Kosc (Delaware), Truck Safety Coalition Volunteer: “I was driving home from the beach with my sons, Brandon and Bryan, when a box truck struck our car. Bryan, who was only seven years old, did not survive. Now is the time to mandate automatic emergency braking (AEB) for ALL trucks. No exceptions and no excuses. I call on President Biden to support this crucial upgrade. We both are Delawareans and we both know the pain and suffering of losing precious family members in a preventable truck crash.”
Ken McLeod, Policy Director, League of American Bicyclists: “Since the last new test was added to the U.S. New Car Assessment Program in 2011, pedestrian fatalities have increased nearly 40 percent and bicyclist fatalities have increased nearly 25percent. While other countries have moved forward to address bicyclist and pedestrian safety, the U.S. has done nothing. Europe, Australasia, China, Japan, and Korea all test for the safety of people biking and walking. Our decades-long failure to ensure safety for people outside of vehicles must stop. The League of American Bicyclists wants the safest vehicles possible for the people in them – and outside of them. There are multiple safe, cost-effective, and ready to implement vehicle safety technologies where the only thing missing is Congressional leadership, so now is the time to create the safest vehicles for the American people.”
Commander Chris Olson (Arizona), Oro Valley, Arizona Police Department, and International Association of Chiefs of Police Highway Safety Committee Member: “For many law enforcement officers and first responders, the roadways are our offices. Managing dangerous drivers is a common work hazard. I have lost many dedicated colleagues and attended far too many funerals for officers killed on our roads. A common factor in all these crashes is that they likely could have been prevented or mitigated by lifesaving crash avoidance technology. It is critically important the U.S. Senate bill be improved to match the safety language in the House’s INVEST in America Act. Doing so will ensure the best version of the technology is equipped on new vehicles and will help to overcome some of the major causes of crashes such as speeding, distracted, drunk, drugged and drowsy driving.”
Pete Sullivan, Advanced Analysis Associates, Automotive, Truck, Mechanical, Hydraulic and Electronic Systems Performance, Testing & Analysis Consultant: “Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) systems alert a driver to obstacles in the roadway and can automatically apply the brakes to prevent the collision or reduce its severity. Medium duty trucks are lagging far behind passenger cars and heavy duty truck segments in terms of implementation of AEB. While there are technical barriers in the path to achieving adoption of AEB technologies within the medium duty truck segment, these challenges can be overcome with application of resources during the design process and cooperation with truck body builders. In fact, several manufacturers already include AEB on their medium duty trucks including Hino, Ram Trucks, Peterbilt, and Kenworth. The natural progression of AEB into the light duty automotive and heavy duty truck markets is to be commended, but many thousands of lives can be saved and injury severity reduced if AEB is mandated within the medium duty truck segment.”
Dr. Deanna Wathington, Executive Board Chair, American Public Health Association: “Every day doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals witness the devastation of motor vehicle crashes. We see peoples’ legs crushed, arms mangled, and internal organs damaged sometimes beyond repair. While we tend to these injuries, we simultaneously know that many of them could have been prevented. As medical providers, we never withhold a proven cure from a sick patient. It is unacceptable for the Senate to provide placebos instead of proven remedies to save lives and spare injuries. I urge the Senate to do the right thing at this pivotal juncture and include the safety provisions passed by the House.”
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.