Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington (November 15, 2022) – On the first anniversary of the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) today led their colleagues Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) in a letter to the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requesting an update on NHTSA’s implementation of critical safety provisions in the law. With deadly motor vehicle crashes in the United States reaching a sixteen-year high in 2021, the lawmakers urged NHTSA to move expeditiously to issue safety regulations and reverse this alarming trend.

“Nearly 43,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2021, the highest number in sixteen years, and according to preliminary numbers, 2022 has been equally, if not more, deadly,” wrote the Senators in their letter. “Fortunately, the IIJA required NHTSA to take much-needed action to ensure this road safety crisis comes to a dead end. We, therefore, urge NHTSA to swiftly implement key safety provisions in the law and reverse this frightening trend in motor vehicle fatalities.”

“When issuing new safety measures, regulators have too often crawled through yellow lights or stalled at red lights. By passing a historic, bipartisan infrastructure law, Congress gave NHTSA the green light to put its pedal to the metal to reduce motor vehicle fatalities,”
 they concluded.

Specifically, the Senators requested NHTSA provide a written update on its progress in implementing ten safety provisions secured in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law:

  • Recall Completion (Sec. 24202), which directs NHTSA to publish an annual list of recall completion rates;
  • Motor Vehicle Seatback Safety Standards (Sec. 24204), which directs NHTSA to issue an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking to update Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 207 regarding seatback safety standards;
  • Automatic Shutoff (Sec. 24505), which directs NHTSA to issue a final rule to require manufacturers of vehicles with keyless ignitions to install a device that automatically shuts off the vehicle after it idles for a certain period;
  • Crash Avoidance Technology (Sec. 24208), which directs NHTSA to issue minimum performance standards for crash avoidance technologies and to require all cars be equipped with a forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking system as well as a lane departure warning and lane keeping assist system;
  • Reduction in Driver Distraction (Sec. 24209), which directs NHTSA to conduct research on driver monitoring systems to reduce driver distraction and driver disengagement;
  • Headlamps (Sec. 24212), which directs NHTSA to issue a final rule amending FMVSS 108 regarding performance-based standards for vehicle headlamps;
  • Hood and Bumper Standards (Sec. 24214), which directs NHTSA to request comment on potential updates to hood and bumper standards;
  • Early Warning Reporting (Sec. 24216), which directs NHTSA to conduct a study on existing requirements for manufacturers to report information and data to DOT to help identify potential safety issues;
  • Advanced Impaired Driver Technology (Sec. 24220), which directs NHTSA to issue a final rule requiring new vehicles be equipped with impaired driving prevention technology; and,
  • Child Safety (Sec. 24222), which directs NHTSA to issue a final rule requiring new cars be equipped with a system to alert the driver to check rear seats after the engine is turned off.

Senator Markey has long been an advocate for comprehensive vehicle safety measures. In June, following a spike of fatal motor vehicle accidents, Senator Markey led thirteen of his colleagues in a letter calling on DOT to address the skyrocketing number of motor vehicle fatalities. Senator Markey and Senator Blumenthal have also introduced a package of four bills designed to improve automotive and traffic safety across the United States: the Promoting Auto Recalls Toward Safety (PARTS) Act, the Early Warning Reporting Systems Improvement Act, the Stay Aware For Everyone (SAFE) Act, and the Modernizing Seat Back Safety Act. Each of these auto safety bills was incorporated in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. In 2021, Senator Markey and Senator Blumenthal led their colleagues in the Road to Zero resolution, which expressed a commitment to ending traffic fatalities by 2050 while reducing transportation safety disparities and inequities.