Thursday, March 22, 2012
WASHINGTON — Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, today is asking a House panel to include several important auto safety provisions, such as new safety standards for car seats and new rules for vehicle stopping distance, in the House version of the surface transportation bill.
These provisions are included in the Senate version of the surface transportation bill, which passed last week.
The consumer organization is also asking the House to include additional protections in its bill to help consumers behind the wheel.
Ami Gadhia, Senior Policy Counsel for Consumers Union, will testify today at a hearing held by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade.
“Congress has a great opportunity to help make cars safer and save lives on our highways,” Gadhia said. “The surface transportation bill is the ideal vehicle – no pun intended – to deliver better safety protections for drivers and passengers. We’re pressing the House to include several critical measures to provide the safeguards that consumers need.”
In her testimony today, Gadhia will urge the House to include several Senate-approved measures in its bill, such as:
· Requiring the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue safety standards for vehicle stopping distance, brake override, and pedal placement.
· Providing grants to states that pass and enforce anti-distracted driving laws and graduated drivers’ licensing laws for teenagers.
· Prioritizing new safety standards for car seats for children, as well as prioritizing new research into emerging child safety concerns.
· Improving NHTSA’s public database of consumer safety reports to make it more useful and accessible to consumers.
· Requiring event data recorders in all new cars starting with model-year 2015 vehicles.
In addition to these measures, Consumers Union asked the House to consider other provisions for its surface transportation legislation:
–NHTSA should mandate that transmission shifters in all new cars be designed so the driver can quickly find the Neutral position and easily shift gears, given the concerns about gated and electronic shifters that can make it difficult to find Neutral in a panic situation.
–Require rental car companies to make recall-related repairs before they rent cars to consumers.
Incorporate NHTSA’s guidelines for automakers regarding in-car distractions into the agency’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) so these distractions can be evaluated on a star-rating system.
–Update standards for seat back strength and vehicle roof strength.
–Do not include any language that would weaken the requirements for NHTSA to meet its deadlines for rulemakings.
Contact: David Butler, 202-462-6262