FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 24, 2022
CONTACT: Pete Daniels / email@example.com / 301-442-2249 (C)
Statement of Cathy Chase, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates), on Memorial Day Travel and Roadway Safety
Expected rise in traffic and current trends in risky driving could have disastrous consequences for road users during the holiday weekend.
Urgent action by our nation’s leaders is needed.
In the meantime, practice safe driving behaviors.
During the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend, more than 39 million people are expected to drive 50 miles or more from home, according to AAA. The predicted increase means miles traveled by car may reach near pre-pandemic levels. This forecast coupled with the announcement by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that nearly 43,000 people died on U.S. roadways in 2021 must serve as a blaring cautionary alarm to all those who will be driving, biking, walking or rolling this coming weekend. Additionally, our nation’s leaders on the federal and state levels need to take immediate action on proven solutions to reverse this deadly trend. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) offers five steps that can save lives this weekend and all year round.
- Motorists must drive sober and alert and obey traffic safety laws at all times. All vehicle occupants must always buckle up, including making certain child passengers are properly restrained. All road users must be vigilant and aware of their roadway environment and prioritize safety.
- The U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) must move quickly to require proven lifesaving technology in new vehicles. Collision avoidance technology, known as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), has been demonstrated to significantly reduce or mitigate crashes. With pedestrian and bicyclist deaths on the rise (13 and five percent respectively in 2021), the minimum performance standards which will be issued by U.S. DOT for ADAS need to account for vulnerable road user safety when appropriate, such as automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and bicyclist detection. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA, Pub. L. 117-58), signed into law last November, includes ADAS requirements as well as directives for technology to prevent impaired driving and keep children from dying or suffering injury in hot cars. While “hot car” deaths and injuries are a year-round tragedy, rising temperatures at the start of summer underscore the urgency of providing a solution to this problem.
- Overdue regulations must be completed. With unbuckled fatalities and speeding as two of the major reasons for skyrocketing fatalities, there is no excuse for inaction on the rear seat belt reminder rule, which is seven years overdue and has been required in the European Union since 2019, and on a speed limiter requirement for commercial motor vehicles for which NHTSA granted a petition in 2011.
- Congress must exercise its traditional oversight role as U.S. DOT works towards fulfilling these and other important vehicle and roadway safety improvements.
- Advocates’ annual Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws identifies 16 commonsense countermeasures that should be passed by all 50 states, including primary enforcement laws to increase seat belt use and curb distracted driving as well as laws requiring ignition interlock devices (IID) for all drunk driving offenders. To reduce crashes, states and localities should expand the use of automated enforcement programs, which when implemented effectively are proven to reduce speeding and red-light running. Moreover, to create a safer roadway environment for all, Advocates urges states to revise rules for setting speed limits to account for pedestrians, bicyclists and other vulnerable road users.
While the Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff to summer, it is a time to honor U.S. military members who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation. Advocates extends our deepest gratitude to their families.
We urge everyone to have a safe holiday weekend.
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 make America’s roads safer. 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.