TO THE EDITOR:
The $1 trillion infrastructure bill does seem to be back-stepping existing progress in auto safety ("Senate bill: Right step or 'mirage'?" Aug. 9).
Specifically: the mandate to "publish a notice on proposed updates to NHTSA's New Car Assessment Program that include a crash-avoidance technology rating system; and to establish a 'roadmap' for regular reviews and status updates," with a due date of "within one year after the bill is enacted."
Since 2015, there has been a mandate to update the NCAP. This year, a proposed rule called the AV Framework has made significant progress in regards to updating NCAP. One proposed solution embraced by NHTSA includes a 1-10 star speed-based rating system for crash protection and collision avoidance.
A "notice" has no regulatory authority, only a "rule" does, and a "proposed rule" is significant progress toward that goal of finishing the rules required to enforce regulations.
So while the money is surely appreciated, the language in this bill does seem to add yet another delay to NCAP updates. Is this another congressional move that favors industry profit over public safety? My fellow safety advocates seem to think so.
However, there is still hope that NHTSA will continue with the progress made by the AV Framework proposed rule because there is no requirement for congressional approval for the Department of Transportation to enact rules.
The question now becomes, is the Biden newly appointed leadership in the DOT and NHTSA going to keep moving forward or not?
DAVID DeVEAU, Owner, DeVco Design & Development, Westfield, Mass. The writer is an independent transportation safety advocate. DeVco Design & Development is an engineering consultancy.