Statement by Cathy Chase, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates), on October National Safety Calendar and Halloween 2023
Pedestrian Safety Month | Teen Driver Safety Week | School Bus Safety Week
(Washington, D.C. | September 29, 2023) October begins with the kickoff of National Pedestrian Safety Month and culminates with Halloween, a day when trick-or-treaters happily disperse in communities across the U.S. Both events bring a heightened awareness about the importance of safety for those outside of vehicles, especially as darkness starts earlier in the day. This month also includes National Teen Driver Safety Week (October 15-21) and National School Bus Safety Week (October 16-20) – putting a rightful focus on the need to protect teens as they get behind the wheel and children during their commutes to school.
According to early estimates by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 7,345 pedestrians were killed in 2022. Motor vehicle crashes are a leading killer of teenagers and young adults in the U.S. In 2021, 5,565 people were killed in crashes involving young drivers (ages 15–20). NHTSA calculates 1,110 people have died in school transportation-related crashes between 2012 and 2021.
These problems are solvable with a comprehensive approach including advancing lifesaving provisions in the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA, Pub. L. 117-58).
- Issue comprehensive Final Rules on automatic emergency braking (AEB) that can detect and respond to all road users on all new passenger vehicles and trucks. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) began this process by releasing Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRMs) earlier this year.
- Issue Final Rules on minimum performance standards and requirements for other proven crash avoidance technologies including lane departure warning and lane keeping assist.
- Update standards to improve vehicle hoods and bumpers to reduce the severity of collisions with vulnerable road users (VRUs) and require adaptive beam headlamp technology.
The IIJA contained several other provisions to advance a Safe System Approach to holistically consider road safety, minimize conflicts between road users, and prevent fatalities and injuries. They must be implemented with urgency.
For teen and novice drivers, graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws can mean the difference in saving lives. Yet, no state has a comprehensive GDL law. Find out more about the specific GDL components and opportunities for states to improve their laws in Advocates’ 2023 Roadmap to Safety.
This month, U.S. Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) reintroduced the School Bus Safety Act 2023 (S-2746). It will advance several vital National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations including three-point seat belts for all occupants, AEB, and electronic stability control (ESC), among others. Advocates calls on Congress to pass this legislation.
This October, and every month, our federal and state leaders need to advance lifesaving measures and not just say that safety is their top priority. This truly is a case of actions speaking louder than words and lives being dependent upon it.