Statement of Cathy Chase, President,
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates),
on Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)
Top Safety Picks for 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 23, 2023
Today, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released its initial list of winners of the 2023 Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ awards which include upgrades for safety technologies. We commend IIHS for continuing to raise the bar. Yet, these improvements shine a glaring spotlight on the need for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to urgently issue safety standards requiring proven safety systems in new vehicles to protect vehicle occupants as well as road users outside the vehicle. While IIHS ratings can motivate, NHTSA must regulate.
In 2021, traffic fatalities reached nearly 43,000 and preliminary 2022 data reveal the figures remain incomprehensibly high. This means that 115 people are needlessly killed on our roadways every day, on average. Of those fatalities, pedestrian and pedalcyclist deaths increased by 12 percent.
NHTSA is chronically behind on issuing numerous safety rules. Additionally, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA, Pub. L. 117-58) which has been the law for 15 months, directed the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to issue additional game-changing rules including on automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems. While implementing the IIJA mandate, it is imperative that DOT requires the technology to be on all new vehicles, including small- and medium-duty trucks, and that it detects and responds to all road users including bicyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users in all lighting conditions and at appropriate speeds. AEB standards, coupled with those for other advanced safety technologies including adaptive driving beam headlamps, are vital to reducing the horrifically high number of crash deaths especially in the dark. About half of all fatal U.S. crashes and three-quarters of fatal pedestrian crashes occur at night.
We urge the Biden Administration to prioritize the issuance of proven solutions to address the public health disaster occurring on our roadways every day.