WASHINGTON, D.C. — A nearly three-year effort by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, in coalition with other groups, culminated in an agreement among highway bill conferees in Congress to require numerous vehicle and driver safety measures, as well as to protect motorists from amendments that would have severely weakened the auto safety environment.
The Transportation Equity Act is a five-year, multi-billion dollar bill that addresses every mode of transportation and highway and auto safety programs. Under the terms of the legislation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration must issue rules requiring rollover prevention technology, an upgrade of the roof strength standard, a new ejection prevention standard, an improved door lock standard and an improved side impact standard.
The bill also requires testing of 15-passenger vans for rollover safety, a study about how to improve effectiveness of seat-belt use reminders, a study of technology to prevent backover crashes, data collection of non-crash, non-traffic incidents, safer power window switch designs to protect children, vehicle window labels with government safety rating information and a study of tire aging. In addition, the bill includes two important state incentive grant programs that will encourage adoption of primary enforcement seat-belt laws and booster seat use laws.
“Today’s announcement of the agreement to include the Senate’s auto safety provisions in the final highway bill is an enormous victory for the highway safety advocacy community, and for the entire nation,” said Judith Lee Stone, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “This bipartisan effort produced a bipartisan victory for the safety of every American.”
Jackie Gillan, vice president and lead lobbyist for the coalition, praised members of Congress for their tenacity on safety’s behalf. “Without the strong leadership throughout the year and in the conference of Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), Senator Trent Lott (R-MS), Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI), Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), Rep. Charles “Chip” Pickering (R-MS) and Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN), our efforts to save thousands of lives and prevent millions of injuries due to motor vehicle crashes in the coming years would have been fruitless,” she said.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is a coalition of consumer, health, medical, safety and insurance companies working together to advance highway and auto safety.