For Vehicle Safety, the Future is Now

Every day in the United States, more than 100 people die because of a car crash. Some are teenagers, like the daughter of writer Michael Lewis and Tabitha Soren, and her boyfriend, who died in a wrong-way crash. Some are well known, like Kevin Clark, who played the drummer in “School of Rock,” who was hit and killed by a driver while biking. Others are not household names, like Janell Katesigwa, who was killed by a drunk driver in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and left behind four children.

Something else happens every day, too: a lack of congressional urgency to require available technology to prevent the next tragedy.

Sadly, what is stopping advanced technology from preventing these deaths is business as usual in Washington, which means a lot of talk about saving lives, but little action.

Existing advanced vehicle safety technology, such as driver monitoring systems, automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warnings, can dramatically reduce crashes like the three described above — and the thousands of others that are a result of drunk, drugged, drowsy and distracted driving.

But only if the technology becomes standard equipment in new vehicles. When technology — underwritten by standards, bolstered by oversight and backstopped by accountability — can annually spare tens of thousands of families from tragedy, our federal government must act.

Over the coming weeks and months, Congress will debate the future of motor vehicles in the United States. The debate will be focused on renewing the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act, which is also referred to as the “highway bill.”

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