House Passes DRIVE Act (H.R. 22) – Public Safety Sacrificed to Auto and Trucking Interests

  • November 5, 2015
150 150 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

For Immediate Release: November 5, 2015

Contact: Beth Weaver 301-814-4088

House Passes DRIVE Act (H.R. 22) – Public Safety Sacrificed to Auto and Trucking Interests


Safety and Consumer Groups and Crash Victims Decry House Passage
of the 6-Year Highway Bill

No Significant Safety Advances Despite Expected Death and Injury Toll of Nearly 200,000 Fatalities and 12 Million Injuries Over Next 6 Years

Washington, D.C. (November 5, 2015) – Today the House passed its version of the DRIVE Act (H.R. 22), the multi-year, multi-billion dollar surface transportation reauthorization bill. The legislation contains numerous provisions that pander to auto and trucking industries at the cost of more deaths and injuries on our streets and highways in the next six years. Many Members of the House, including Representatives Schakowsky (D-IL), Lewis (D-GA), Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) , Johnson (D-GA), Frankel (D-FL), and Kinzinger (R-IL) stood with consumer and safety groups and families of crash victims and sponsored several amendments to strike anti-safety, roll backs and add pro-safety, pro-consumer proposals. After two days of round the clock debate and numerous votes there was only one lifesaving vote when an amendment by Rep. Ribble (R-WI) to increase truck weights to 91,000 lbs. was defeated by an overwhelming and bi-partisan vote of 236 to 187.

National public health and safety organizations and families of victims of motor vehicle and motor carrier crashes urge Congress to remedy the indefensible anti-safety provisions in the DRIVE Act during conference on the House and Senate versions of the transportation bill to work out differences. Also, groups urge the Obama Administration to stand with families and reject any provisions that jeopardize public safety.

Jackie Gillan, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, “We are grateful that American motorists were spared being forced to drive next to heavier and more dangerous trucks on our highways with the defeat of the Ribble amendment. Unfortunately the safety celebration ended there. These worst 10 safety votes show the real damage that will be inflicted on families and truck drivers if this bill is signed into law. Today the House passed the DRIVE Act and tomorrow the backroom, closed doors negotiations between the House and Senate begin. I urge our nation’s leaders to stand up for safety. The public will pay with their lives and their wallets if corporate lobbyists win.”

Top Ten worst anti-safety votes:

  • Defeat of Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) amendment to strike the teen truck and bus driver pilot program with a study of intrastate teen truck drivers before embarking on a deadly experiment to allow teens behind the wheel of 80,000 lb. big rigs on Interstates.
  • Defeat of Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) amendment to advance common sense safety and consumer protections including: improved National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) vehicle safety databases, used car buyers guide, retention of safety records by manufacturers, elimination of regional recalls, elimination of any time restrictions to remedy safety defects in vehicles, pedestrian safety improvements and enhanced safety for rear seat occupants.
  • Defeat of Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL) amendment to require that the “safety scorecards” of trucks and buses, scores developed by the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Program, remain public while the National Academies of Sciences study the CSA Program.
  • Defeat of Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) amendment which would have allowed the U.S. Department of Transportation to proceed with a public rulemaking already underway regarding minimum financial responsibility for truck and bus companies. Minimum insurance levels for trucking companies have not been reviewed since 1985.
  • Passage of Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) amendment which exempts from safety standards up to 500 replica vehicles and vehicles used for testing/evaluation. Shields auto manufacturers in civil litigation from failure to comply with NHTSA guidelines and drastically cuts funding for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the agency responsible for regulating the auto industry, from the level supported by the Obama Administration.
  • Passage of Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX) amendment which exposes consumers to dangerous defective vehicles by allowing auto dealers to provide loaner vehicles that are under an open recall for a safety defect to unsuspecting consumers.
  • Passage of amendment offered by Reps. Rick Crawford (R-AR), Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) which preempts state law and allows two light- or medium-duty trailers to be towed together, when empty and as inventory property of a manufacturer, distributor or dealer of such trailers.
  • Passage of amendment offered by Reps. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), Blake Farenthold (R-TX) and Cheri Bustos (D-IL) which provides a dangerous special interest exemption for various drivers in the agriculture industry of hazardous materials. Drivers covered under these exemptions would not be required to pass a Hazardous Materials license test to transport more than 118 gallons of fuel, up to 1,000 gallons.
  • Passage of Numerous Truck Size and Weight Exemptions offered by Reps. Sean Duffy (R-WI) and Reid Ribble (R-WI), Rick Nolan (D-MN) and Rick Crawford (R-AR), and Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Brian Babin (R-TX), and Gene Green (D-TX). These exemptions would allow for dangerous overweight trucks on specific roads for lumber interests and for certain highway segments.
  • Passage of amendment offered by Reps. Jeff Denham (R-CA), Corrine Brown (D-FL), Ryan Costello (R-PA) and Brad Ashford (D-NE) which restricts rest breaks for truck drivers required under state law and contributes to driver fatigue by reducing the off-duty rest time of truck drivers.

Laura Christian, birth mother of Amber Rose, victim of a General Motors ignition switch defect, “Since learning that Amber was killed when her airbag failed to deploy as a result of the General Motors ignition switch defect, I have worked tirelessly to ensure other families don’t experience my pain and loss because of auto industry cover-ups and NHTSA carelessness. The failure of this legislation to include any significant reforms and increased penalties for auto industry misconduct is a slap in the face to victims and a rejection of long overdue reforms. The auto industry grip on this Congress is so tight that the House even rejected a common sense and reasonable amendment by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) to improve consumer information. I urge the conferees to think about what decisions they would make if their loved one was killed in a completely preventable crash.”

Russ Swift, Co-chair of Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T.), “I know first-hand the devastation that can be caused by an inexperienced truck driver. My son, Jasen, and his friend, Dustin, were killed on October 14, 1993, in a crash caused by a tired teenage trucker. The interstate teenage trucker provision in this bill is going to expose more families to the dangers of allowing teens behind the wheel of 80,000 pound 18-wheelers. I want to thank Rep. Lewis for offering his amendment to study the safety records of young drivers before making the rash decision to allow teens to drive trucks on our Interstates. Unfortunately this reasonable and prudent amendment was defeated. ”

Jack Gillis, author of The Car Book and Director of Public Affairs for the Consumer Federation of America, “Consumers expect that when there is a major safety problem, their political leaders will be on their side to address it and mitigate risk. The House bill gets a failing grade for protecting corporate misbehavior and malfeasance over consumer safety.”

Joan Claybrook, Chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and former Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “The defeat of the Ribble amendment which would have increased federal truck weights to 91,000 pounds was a tremendous victory; however, members of the House should not be taking a victory lap on passage of this bill. The well-financed and well-connected industry lobbyists who wrote large campaign checks cashed in on this bill, and American families are left footing the bill for multiple industry giveaways. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has repeatedly stated that safety is his top priority and we support that position. It is not enough for Congress to send President Obama a long-term transportation funding bill; it must also include a long-term commitment to reducing highway deaths and injuries. There is still time to fix this bill. I urge House and Senate leaders to put the safety of the American public before corporate special interests.”