CAS Remarks from INVEST Act Press Conference

June 30, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Michael Brooks, [email protected]

Remarks at Auto Safety Press Conference in Congressional Visitors Center

Good afternoon everyone. My name is Jason Levine, and I am the Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety.

Today, we are here to talk about leadership and courage. Each of the members of Congress we heard from this afternoon have distinguished themselves in the past and especially in the 117th Congress by taking charge when it comes to putting the safety of all drivers, passengers, and vulnerable road users first.

Far too often vehicle safety takes a back seat in conversations regarding infrastructure or innovation. That is not the case when it comes to the INVEST Act. In particular, the INVEST Act’s Motor Vehicle Safety title contains landmark legislation which, if enacted, has the potential to make a significant and lasting impact on the more than 100 Americans killed every day either in a vehicle or when they are hit by one; the 2.5 million Americans who are seriously injured every year in a car crash, and the estimated $1 trillion annual hit to our economy caused by crashes that technology could help prevent.

As a result of the leadership of Representatives Schakowsky, Rice, Dingell, Ryan, and Tonko, as well as Chairman Pallone, Representatives DeGette and Rush, and others, the INVEST Act recognizes the potential for improved technology and new standards to play an important role in safety. Among many other consumer safety provisions, the INVEST Act:

  • Requires rules be written by a date certain to employ advanced technology to address the more than 10,000 deaths every year associated with impaired driving.
  • Requires deployment of crash avoidance technology including automatic emergency braking and blind spot warning based on objective performance standards.
  • Requires research, followed by rulemaking, into driver monitoring systems to help combat distracted and drowsy driving; intelligent speed assist to take on speed related deaths; and automatic collision notification to help those who are injured have a fighting chance of receiving lifesaving care when every second matters.
  • Requires available technology be deployed to fight the horrors of hot car heatstroke deaths that are every parent’s nightmare.
  • Requires an update to the completely out of date 5-star crash rating system by requiring new tests and test dummies and includes requirements to help protect vulnerable road users. Combined, these provisions will provide consumers with the type of useful comparative safety information that has been lacking in NCAP for years. Also, for the first time ever NCAP will include safety ratings for categories such as adult women, children, and seniors. The new NCAP also recognizes the need to protect passengers in the back seat too.

Which brings us to a separate provision sponsored by Representative Rice and co-sponsored by Chairwoman Schakowsky, and Representatives DeGette and Rush, that is being offered as amendment to the INVEST Act. This amendment will take on the need to modernize a seat back safety standard that was written during the administration of Lyndon Baines Johnson by mandating NHTSA write a new standard, as the current one can be passed by the average banquet hall chair.

The 1967 seatback standard has always been inadequate with its main contribution to consumers having been catastrophic suffering. In 2019, career staff at NHTSA published research with potential solutions that would cost less than $5 per seat, or less than the cost of washing a car. The Modernizing Seatback Safety Act, if enacted, can help prevent many of the estimated 50 child deaths and countless injuries that happen every year due to these failures.

In a few minutes, Ted Schwab is going to share his experience as a parent of a child who was in one of these crashes, and the trauma not only of Teddy’s fractured skull but of the realization that he and thousands of other families were let down by their government allowing an inadequate standard to stay on the books since before man walked on the moon.

On behalf of the Center for Auto Safety, we want to honor the courage of Ted and his wife Claire and their son Teddy, and other families who could not join us today like Michelle and Jason Fraser and their daughter JayFay, and Kristi and Ben Reavis and their children Emily and Owen, and Liz and Andy Warner – parents of the late Taylor Grace.

We also want to honor the courage of all the family advocates here today – it is awe inspiring every time we have the opportunity to hear these heroes tell their story, not to benefit themselves, but to spare others the pain they have experienced. Thank you.

Theodore Schwab statement at Auto Safety Press Conference

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The Center for Auto Safety was founded in 1970 in Washington, DC as a member supported, national, independent, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy for all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Over the last 51 years, the Center has successfully led the fight for lemon laws in every state, airbags in every vehicle, and recall repairs being made at no cost to the consumer. For 40 years the Center published The Car Book, America’s most comprehensive car buying guide focused on safety, and in that spirit now offers the custom Vehicle Safety Check providing regular safety updates and hard-to-find service alerts on vehicle safety issues. To learn more about the Center, please visit www.AutoSafety.org.