Heller, Markey Urge Federal Agency to Integrate Crash Avoidance Technology into Safety Ratings

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) today urged the federal agency tasked with improving vehicle safety to implement crash avoidance technology information, such as active braking and lane-tracking technology and forward collision warning, into the safety rating information listed on the Monroney label.

 

In a letter sent to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Senators requested that Acting Administrator Heidi King provide an update on NHTSA’s plan and timeline to complete this integration. Although the deadline to implement the crash avoidance technology information was one year after enactment of the FAST Act (December 4, 2016), such action has not been finalized. Heller and Markey, both members of the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, co-authored a provision in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act that required NHTSA to integrate these driver assistance technologies into the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), the agency’s safety rating system.

 

“Including crash avoidance technologies as soon as possible is an essential step to help U.S. consumers make more informed choices about the technologies that will enhance their safety when purchasing a new car and ultimately to help reduce highway fatalities,” the Senators wrote. “Given the U.S. NCAP served as a benchmark for other countries looking to implement consumer information/rating programs, we cannot let U.S. leadership fall behind other nations in offering an accurate safety rating to consumers.”

 

In 2016, roadway fatalities increased for the second year in a row, culminating in 37,461 people killed and over 2.4 million people injured, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

 

The letter reads in full below.

 

April 13, 2018

 

The Honorable Heidi King

Acting Administrator

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

U.S. Department of Transportation

Washington, DC 20590

 

Dear Acting Administrator King:

 

As members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, we write to you today regarding a critical safety provision included in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (Public Law 114-94), which was signed into law on December 4, 2015. Our bipartisan provision we co-authored, the Safety Through Informed Consumers Act (STICRS/Section 24321 of the FAST Act), promotes safer cars by requiring the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to integrate crash avoidance technology information, such as active braking and lane-tracking technology and forward collision warning, into the safety rating information listed on the Monroney label.  

 

The deadline to integrate the crash avoidance technology information was one year after enactment of the FAST Act (December 4, 2016). To date, this requirement has not been finalized. Given the critical safety aspect of this provision, the U.S. should ensure it stays ahead of other countries in incorporating these technologies into its rating system. That is why we are respectfully requesting an update on NHTSA’s plan and timeline to complete this rulemaking so that the STICRS provision is fully implemented as required by Congress.

 

In 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s own statistics, roadway fatalities increased for the second year in a row, culminating in 37,461 people killed and over 2.4 million people injured. In the past, automobile manufacturers focused on crash worthiness advances to minimize injuries once a crash happens; however, over 90 percent of crashes are caused by human error, which is why crash avoidance systems that warn the driver and intervene if the driver fails to act are essential to prevent the crashes. Studies of real-world crash performance data in the U.S. and abroad show the effectiveness of crash avoidance systems in reducing injuries and fatalities. For example, a recent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety report indicates that a lane departure warning reduces the rates of single-vehicle, sideswipe, and head-on crashes of all severities by 11 percent. This technology also lowers the rates of injury in crashes of the same types by 21 percent. 

 

As crash avoidance technologies continue to be developed and improved, they will become even more effective over time. It is critical to educate U.S. consumers now about these technologies to increase the fleet penetration of these systems, which in turn will bring the consumer cost down. The fastest most effective way to do this is via the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) and inclusion of crash avoidance technologies as part of the NCAP. Including crash avoidance technologies as soon as possible is an essential step to help U.S. consumers make more informed choices about the technologies that will enhance their safety when purchasing a new car and ultimately to help reduce highway fatalities. Given the U.S. NCAP served as a benchmark for other countries looking to implement consumer information/rating programs, we cannot let U.S. leadership fall behind other nations in offering an accurate safety rating to consumers.

 

Thank you for the consideration of this request. We look forward to learning about NHTSA’s timing for incorporating this important provision into the U.S. NCAP. 

Sincerely,

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