President Biden’s American Jobs Plan calls on Congress to improve road safety for all users and reduce traffic crashes and fatalities
Washington (April 26, 2021) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today reintroduced a collection of four bills designed to improve automotive and traffic safety across the United States. The lawmakers are releasing these proposals for inclusion in the congressional debate on a comprehensive infrastructure package and the next surface transportation reauthorization legislation.
“Every year on average, over 36,000 people are killed and nearly three million more are injured in motor vehicle crashes,” said Senator Markey. “These numbers reveal a public health crisis that we must not accept as inevitable. We can prevent these unnecessary tragedies with proven strategies and technologies. That’s why I am proud to reintroduce a robust legislative package that will address several of the most dangerous safety issues on our roads. As Congress debates infrastructure and surface transportation reauthorization in the weeks ahead, I will fight for these bills and ensure that safety is at the forefront of everything we do. Upgrading our roads and highways also means upgrading safety.”
?”These measures put safety first, and firmly in the driver seat. No less than roads and bridges, safer cars and drivers must be part of an infrastructure initiative. Thousands of preventable traffic deaths and injuries create an urgent moral imperative for action,” said Senator Blumenthal. “We must upgrade lagging auto recalls, deficient defect investigations, unsafe distracted driving, substandard seat backs, and other clear and present dangers. This effort should be thoroughly bipartisan, and I look forward to working with Senator Markey and colleagues on both sides of the aisle. There should be nothing red or blue about auto safety.“
Promoting Auto Recalls Toward Safety (PARTS) Act
The first bill – the Promoting Auto Recalls Toward Safety (PARTS) Act – will increase the speed and effectiveness of motor vehicle recalls in the wake of lessons learned from the infamous Takata airbag recall. The PARTS Act will specifically authorize the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to provide grants to states for use in notifying registered motor vehicle owners about manufacturer-issued safety recalls, as well as require additional reporting and an annual scorecard on how effectively automakers are completing any recalls.
A copy of the PARTS Act can be found HERE. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) is also a cosponsor of this legislation.
Early Warning Reporting Systems Improvement Act
The second bill – the Early Warning Reporting Systems Improvement Act – will fill a safety gap created by the historically low number of defect investigations launched by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in recent years. The legislation ensures that auto manufacturers will provide more information about incidents involving fatalities and serious injuries directly to the public. It will also require NHTSA to make the information it receives publicly available in a user-friendly format, so that consumers and independent safety experts can evaluate potential safety defects themselves.
A copy of the Early Warning Reporting Systems Improvement Act can be found HERE.
Stay Aware for Everyone (SAFE) Act
The third bill – the Stay Aware for Everyone (SAFE) Act – will tackle the threat of distracted driving, a problem that is only increasing with the proliferation of “driver assistance” technologies that can encourage complacency if misused on the road. The SAFE Act will specifically require the DOT to study how driver-monitoring systems can prevent driver distraction, driver disengagement, automation complacency, and the foreseeable misuse of advanced driver-assist systems. The legislation also requires a rulemaking to mandate the installation of driver-monitoring systems based on the results of this study, which shall incorporate appropriate privacy and data security safeguards.
A copy of the SAFE Act can be found HERESenator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is also a cosponsor of this legislation.
Modernizing Seat Back Safety Act
The fourth bill – the Modernizing Seat Back Safety Act – will address the thousands of preventable fatalities and life-threatening injuries that have occurred because of motor vehicle seat failure during a collision. The legislation will require NHTSA to update its standards for seat back integrity in new cars, an essential action that NHSTA has neglected to take for more than fifty years despite repeated tragedies. Just a few examples include the following:
  • Andy and Liz Warner and their children suffered a devastating loss when their daughter and sister, Taylor Grace Warner, was killed in 2010 at just 17 months old when the front seat of their family car collapsed on top of her when they were struck from behind.
    • “Tragically our family is not alone in experiencing this type of unthinkable loss. We are committed to this not happening to another family. Advocating for safety improvements has been a marathon and it is time to get them over the finish line,” said the Warners. “Hundreds of children have been killed and many more have been seriously injured because of seat back failure. This could be prevented with action by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to update the safety standard, which this bill would require. Senators Markey and Blumenthal have been advocating for auto safety and supporting the cause for change in honor of our daughter and the others needlessly killed or injured. Our family thanks the Senators for their leadership on this issue and urges Congress to pass this legislation without further delay.”

  • Jayden-Faith “Jay-Fay” Fraser suffered a traumatic brain injury and had to be placed in a medically induced coma after her family’s vehicle was struck from behind in November 2016. While she has made great progress, Jay-Fay still cannot walk or talk and may never lead a completely independent life.
    • “On Thanksgiving 2016, our family was returning from our annual tradition of feeding the homeless, when our vehicle was hit from behind and our lives were changed forever,” said Michelle and Jason Fraser, parents of Jayden-Faith Fraser. “The driver’s seat of our car collapsed rearward resulting in a catastrophic injury to our precious daughter. A front seat should never be the instrument of destruction that destroys anyone’s life, especially a child. No one should have to experience the pain and trauma that our daughter, Jay-Fay, has suffered over these last four years. No parent should know the fear of not knowing whether their child would live or die. NHTSA, the vehicle industry and the seat industry have known for years that collapsing seats were killing or maiming our most precious cargo, children just like Jay-Fay. It’s not rocket science – the technology to prevent these injuries and deaths has been available for decades. We are grateful to Senator Markey and Senator Blumenthal for working to put pressure on the vehicle industry and the seat industry to build safe seats that are strong enough to protect everyone in the vehicle equally, and to require NHTSA to make sure no family will have to go through what our family has gone through. It will never be too soon to prevent another catastrophe.”

  • Kristi and Ben Reavis’ vehicle was rear ended in 2016, causing both front seats to fail. When their seatbacks collapsed, both parents slid under their seatbelts and launched into their children seated behind. Seven adults involved in the collision walked away from the wreck, but Emily (5) and Owen (3) were rendered comatose, with fractured skulls and traumatic brain injuries.
    • “Parents are told that children must ride in the back seat,” said Kristi and Ben Reavis, parents of Emily and Owen. “It shouldn’t take an act of Congress to ensure back seats are as safe as the front. Our children face a lifetime of challenges and terrifying health implications. This is a consequence of decades of failure by the Department of Transportation to hold the auto industry accountable for designing seats to protect all occupants. A change in the law is long overdue, so we are tremendously grateful to Senators Markey and Blumenthal for sponsoring this legislation.”
A copy of the Modernizing Seat Back Safety Act can be found HERE.
All four bills have been endorsed by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Center for Auto Safety, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety,, the National Consumers League, Consumer Reports, Safety Research and Strategies, Safe Roads Alliance, and
The PARTS Act and the SAFE Act have also been endorsed by the National Safety Council.
“These four bills, taken together, demonstrate that affordable, innovative, and data driven solutions are available right now to take on car crashes – the leading cause of death for Americans aged 25 and under,” said Jason Levine, Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety. “Despite those who suggest 100 vehicle-related deaths a day are inevitable, these real-world fixes can prevent seatback collapse tragedies, minimize distracted driving, help identify defects and close the stubborn recall completion gap. Congress must follow the leadership of longstanding consumer safety champions Senators Markey and Blumenthal and take up these bills to protect all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians on the road.”
“Senators Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal have once again demonstrated their tenacious commitment to improve auto safety and consumer protection,” said Cathy Chase, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “The persistent physical, emotional and financial toll of motor vehicle crashes in our nation requires a comprehensive strategy. The four bills they introduced today are part of this solution. When enacted, the process for identifying and repairing vehicles with dangerous safety defects will be more transparent and efficient.  Fewer back seat passengers will die as a result of preventable seat back failures. And, widespread adoption of driver monitoring technology which has the potential to curb distracted driving and other dangerous driving behaviors will be advanced. The more than 36,000 people being killed on our roads every year underscores the urgency for action by Congress to pass these lifesaving upgrades this session.”
“Senators Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal are national consumer rights champions who have identified dangerous gaps in our auto safety laws and taken action to fix them,” said Joan Claybrook, Former Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). “The four bills introduced today take commonsense steps to improve safety and protect consumers. Enacting these bills will upgrade NHTSA’s program to ensure recalled vehicles are fixed and that the crash data needed to identify safety defects is improved. Long overdue safety standards for seat back strength will be updated, and NHTSA’s progress in adopting rules for driver monitoring systems will occur. I urge Congress to take quick action to enact these bills.”
“NCL strongly endorses auto safety legislation that is very much needed to address distracted driving, more robust recall completion rates, early warning systems to identify defects and improve seat back strength,” said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League (NCL). “Thanks to longtime consumer champions in the US senate – Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal – for introducing this important measure.”
“Safe Roads Alliance is grateful to Senator Markey and Senator Blumenthal for their leadership on these critical auto safety issues,” said Emily Stein, President of the Safe Roads Alliance. “At a time when we need more federal action and oversight, these Senators are showing their colleagues the importance of addressing distracted driving and other traffic safety issues at a federal level. We applaud them for taking a strong stand to reduce the fatalities and injuries caused by distracted driving.”
“It’s critical for Congress to keep our auto safety laws up to date,” said William Wallace, manager of safety policy for Consumer Reports. “These bills would improve the safety technology in our cars—specifically to help drivers keep their attention on the road and strengthen seat backs to better protect children in a crash—and also set up more effective ways of dealing with defects. Consumer Reports is proud to support the legislation.”
“While the country rightfully focuses on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, Senators Markey and Blumenthal have not forgotten about the dramatic impact that vehicles have on the public health of our nation,” said Jack Gillis, Executive Director at Consumer Federation of America and author of The Car Book. “We strongly support their efforts to address the millions of recalled vehicles on our highways, the need for better reporting to uncover safety defects, protecting rear seat passengers from dangers posed by the outdated seatback standard and addressing the serious problem of distracted driving.”
“Tragically, COVID-19 is not the only health and safety threat our nation faces,” said Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. “We applaud Senators Markey and Blumenthal for continuing to champion protecting motorists and their families from deadly defects that claim precious lives.”
“Children depend on their parents and caregivers, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Congress to keep them safe when traveling in motor vehicles,” said Janette Fennell, President of “Parents are told and the laws requires that our children are transported correctly restrained in the back seat. Unfortunately, many families find out how weak the 1967 standard is for seat back strength only after their child has been killed.  Parents are also very worried about recalls or defects in vehicles that can be deadly if they do not learn about them until it’s too late. We are incredibly thankful for Senators Blumenthal and Markey’s leadership taking these bold initiatives on behalf of consumers because they know that when affordable, innovative, and data-driven solutions are available, they must be used to save consumers’ lives.”
“One in five vehicles has an open safety recall, which is why we’ve long called for every vehicle owner to check their recall status proactively through our Check to Protect campaign,” said Lorraine Martin, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “We applaud Sen. Markey’s introduction of the PARTS Act, which would enhance vehicle safety by taking the onus off individual drivers — and increase transparency into automakers’ response to recalls. It’s also fitting that Sen. Markey introduced the SAFE Act during Distracted Driving Awareness Month, when NSC urges all drivers to recommit to driving distraction-free by taking our ‘Just Drive’ pledge. We look forward to this bill becoming law so our nation’s roadways can become safer for everyone on the roads, whether or not they’re behind the wheel.”