Groups advocating for vehicle and consumer safety applauded the inclusion of auto safety provisions in a more than $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill introduced last week by House Democrats and are urging Congress to pass the legislation.
The package of auto safety measures would address vehicle crashes, deaths and injuries by establishing minimum performance standards. It also would require all new vehicles to be equipped with advanced driver-assist systems and would update NHTSA's five-star rating New Car Assessment Program as well as institute several other requirements to improve occupant and vehicle safety.
The measure was announced Monday by Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., chair of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Center for Auto Safety, Consumer Reports and other auto-related safety organizations support the measures and are asking Congress to take action.
During a Tuesday press call, the groups said the auto safety provisions, known as the Motor Vehicle Safety Title, are necessary for addressing "the unacceptably high toll" of vehicle crashes, deaths, injuries and associated costs in the U.S.
"By requiring the auto industry to share the wealth when it comes to safety technology, the Motor Vehicle Safety Title will greatly reduce thousands of preventable deaths and injuries every year," Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, said in prepared remarks. "Moreover, it will force the Department of Transportation to back up its rhetoric with action when it claims that safety comes first."
The massive infrastructure proposal — called the Moving Forward Act — aims to fix crumbling roads and bridges, invest in public transit, improve broadband access and steer the U.S. toward low- and zero-emission vehicles. The bill also includes provisions to upgrade the electric grid with a more than $70 billion investment that would help develop an electric-vehicle charging network, plus many other provisions addressing various infrastructure needs and challenges.
The current law, known as the FAST Act, authorized $305 billion through 2020 for highway and motor vehicle safety, public transportation and other programs and is set to expire Sept. 30. The full House is expected to vote on the new bill before July 4. Schakowsky said Tuesday the bill will pass in the House and will then be negotiated in the Senate.
"This is a very, very big bill," she said during the press call. "There is the opportunity, I think, to move things independently, but we're going to try and keep this package together."