Joint Statement on Passage of the INVEST in America Act

  • July 1, 2021
150 150 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
CONTACT: Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Allison Kennedy / / 360-281-7033

Joint Statement from Consumer, Public Health, Safety, Labor, Bicyclist and Insurance Organizations and Traffic Crash Victim Advocates on Passage of the INVEST in America Act (H.R. 3684) by the U.S. House of Representatives

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a five-year surface transportation bill, the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act (H.R. 3684), which, if enacted, will significantly reduce the horrific toll of motor vehicle crash deaths and injuries on our roadways.

The committed safety leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rules Committee Chair Jim McGovern (D-MA), Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chair Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) was key to this outcome, as was the determination of the sponsors of multiple stand-alone safety bills and amendments incorporated into the bill.  The focus and work of these safety leaders will yield safer vehicles, drivers and roads.

Cathy Chase, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety: “Over the 5-year time period of the INVEST in America Act, nearly 200,000 people will be needlessly killed and 14 million more injured in motor vehicle crashes without bold – yet completely commonsense and research-based – policy improvements.  Thankfully, the U.S. House of Representatives has chosen to say this death and injury toll is inexcusable, insufferable and intolerable by its passage.  As the Senate prepares to consider their transportation legislation, we call for Congress to meet this moment, reject dangerous industry carve-outs and exemptions, prioritize urgently needed improvements such as the inclusion of small and medium size trucks in requirements for crash avoidance technology, and ensure the final product truly advances safety for everyone.”

Joan Claybrook, Chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH): “The INVEST in America Act makes great strides to advance innovative safety solutions that will protect thousands of road users.  Unfortunately, it falls far short in one major area – the safety of small and medium size trucks, like those frequently delivering e-commerce packages and collecting garbage in neighborhoods.  For multiple years a bill sponsored by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) required automatic emergency braking (AEB), a technological, lifesaving vaccine, for all trucks.  Unexpectedly this year his bill created an industry carve-out for these trucks whose purchase and crash involvement are both on the upswing.  This is extremely disappointing and will result in many needless deaths and serious injuries.  On behalf of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) which includes families whose loved ones were killed in crashes involving these Class 3-6 trucks, we urge this lethal loophole to be closed before the bill is sent to President Biden.”

Amy Cohen, Co-Founder, Families for Safe Streets New York: “Traffic violence is a largely unrecognized, preventable public health crisis.  Yet, as many other nations have proven, it is one we can solve now.  The requirements for motor vehicle safety technology and improvements to better protect vulnerable road users, and greater use of a Safe System approach for roadway design, planning and speed setting in the INVEST in America Act are a huge step forward to reaching the goal of zero fatalities.  The safety upgrades in the bill, especially those to require advanced driver assistance systems that detect and respond to pedestrians and bicyclists, will help to prevent or mitigate crashes. If these critical protections are extended to all vehicles including small and medium size trucks, they will save more lives and could likely have saved my son Sammy’s life.  I urge our members of Congress to close this deadly gap when negotiations begin with the Senate.”

Janette Fennell, President and Founder, Kids and Car Safety: “Since 1990, 1,000 children have died in hot cars incidents.  These are our most helpless, fragile, and innocent souls.  It is unconscionable to allow another day to pass where we aren’t utilizing effective, available technological solutions to stop the devastation that hot car deaths and injuries impose on our families. The Hot Cars Act language incorporated in the INVEST in America Act must be passed immediately to require detection and alert systems in new cars to prevent these needless, preventable, and tragic deaths.”

Jena Frost (Lyman, ME), Mother of 5-year-old Wyatt Frost: “My son Wyatt was 5 years old when he and a family friend were killed by a box truck that was not equipped with automatic emergency braking (AEB).  The car Wyatt was riding in was forced by a box truck into the rear of the semi in front of them and then smashed the car as it drove on top of it.  It has been almost 5 years since Wyatt was senselessly killed, and I recently learned that the lawmakers we rely on to protect us are once again failing miserably to do their job protecting public safety.  We have the technology to make sure that, if drivers fail to apply brakes when they should, a truck can apply them automatically with AEB.  Unfortunately, the current House-passed infrastructure bill doesn’t require all trucks to have that safety device and creates a giant loophole that excludes delivery and box trucks.  Please act now to change the bill and require all new trucks be equipped with lifesaving AEB.  Our families sharing the road with all trucks need protection from all trucks and not just some. It is shocking to me that this is even a question.  For other families, for Wyatt, for me, and for all drivers and passengers on the road…. please understand why it is so important to close this deadly loophole and enact a universal requirement for AEB on all trucks.”

Jack Gillis, Executive Director, Consumer Federation of America: “The INVEST in America Act includes a comprehensive upgrade of many safety policies including the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) which is long overdue and greatly needed.  As the innovator of this car safety ratings program, the U.S. has fallen seriously behind other countries.  The result is ‘starflation’ with most vehicles getting the highest rating taking away a consumer’s ability to separate the lemons from the peaches—the whole purpose of the program.  Unfortunately, a notable omission from this safety-forward legislation is not adequately addressing the dangers associated with used cars that have dangerous and deadly unrepaired recalls.  These vehicles must be prohibited from being sold, leased or loaned by dealers.  This glaring omission endangers the tens of millions of U.S. residents who cannot afford a new car or who choose to buy a used car from dealers each year.  This inequity must be rectified before a final transportation bill is sent to the President Biden’s desk.”

Stephen W. Hargarten, MD, MPH, Society for the Advancement of Violence and Injury Research: “As an emergency physician, I know first-hand the human toll that results from persistent and deadly issues on our roadways.  The impaired driving prevention technology required in the INVEST in America Act will be a game-changer.  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) determined that if such technology was widely deployed, more than 9,000 lives could be saved each year.  This ‘cure’ needs to be administered now.  I urge Congress and President Biden to ensure that the strongest language resulting in the most expedient adoption of this and other life-saving technologies be included in the new law.”

James P. Hoffa, General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters: “This bold, forward-looking bill will ensure safety across our transportation sector while promoting good-paying union jobs for years to come. It finally addresses head-on the need to raise standards across the trucking industry countering a race-to-the-bottom which has plagued the industry since deregulation.  On behalf of the 1.4 million members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, I urge Congress to retain the advances in this bill during conference negotiations and also reject special interest carve-outs and exemptions which will endanger our drivers and everyone sharing the roads with them.”

Jason Levine, Executive Director, the Center for Auto Safety: “Far too often vehicle safety takes a back seat in conversations regarding infrastructure or innovation.  That is not the case when it comes to the INVEST in America Act which recognizes the potential advanced vehicle technology, combined with new standards, can play in consumer safety.  By requiring rules that use existing technologies to combat impaired driving, mandating the deployment of crash avoidance technology, and including an update to the completely out of date 5-star crash rating system the INVEST in America Act, if enacted, will help to prevent tens of thousands of deaths annually in the very near future.  Further, by requiring the inadequate seatback standard be rewritten it takes a giant leap towards ending the nightmare of catastrophic injuries and deaths suffered unnecessarily by so many victims for the last fifty-four years.  We are grateful on behalf of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians for the many auto safety advances included in the INVEST in America Act and we look forward to these provisions being quickly adopted by the Senate.”

Alan Maness, Vice President of Federal Affairs, State Farm Insurance Companies: “The high stakes for the nation’s road users are starkly identified in a recent report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) which estimates that 38,680 crash fatalities occurred in 2020.  This marks the highest number of annual traffic fatalities since 2007 and a seven percent increase from 2019, despite a drop in miles driven on U.S. roads.  The safety advances in the INVEST in America Act will produce meaningful safety gains to reverse this alarming spike and prevent the shattering of lives and families caused by dangerous and deadly motor vehicle crashes.”

Bill Nesper, Executive Director, League of American Bicyclists: “After a decade of rising bicyclist and pedestrian deaths, the League of American Bicyclists is excited to see Congress address the safety of vulnerable road users in a comprehensive manner.  Increased funding for safe bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, improved design and safety policies, and a new commitment to vehicles that are safe for people outside of them make the INVEST in America Act a big step toward the goal of zero traffic deaths.  The United States has fallen behind other countries in creating safer vehicles and the provisions to test new technologies, like automated emergency braking for bicyclist and pedestrian safety, and old technologies, like hoods and bumpers, will help the US catch up so that our nation once again leads on safety.”

The safety improvements in the INVEST in America Act: require advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) technology including automatic emergency braking (AEB) in new cars that detects and responds to pedestrians, bicyclists and other vulnerable road users (VRUs); require AEB in class 7 and 8 trucks and school buses; require passive impaired driving prevention technology in new cars; require detection and alert technology to prevent hot cars incident; direct a comprehensive update of the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) including ratings for VRUs; update hood and bumper standards to better protect VRUs; address carbon monoxide poisoning and rollaway hazards associated with keyless ignitions; direct research and then rulemaking for other vehicle safety technology including driver monitoring systems to curb drunk, drugged, distracted and drowsy driving; update the seat back standard to prevent collapse; incentivize a Safe System approach to road design, building and speed limit setting; direct vitally needed upgrades to improve limousine and school bus safety; update the rear guard standard for large trucks to prevent underride crashes; and, improve motor carrier oversight and public access to safety data.  These lifesaving upgrades should be strengthened by action to close safety gaps such as requiring AEB for class 3 – 6 trucks, directing side and front guard standards on trucks, and taking decisive action to improve recall safety.  It is incumbent on our members of Congress to do so as deliberations on the final bill proceed.