It Could Do Much More and You Have the Opportunity to Say So
For over a decade, the number of pedestrians and cyclists killed on our streets has steadily risen every year and it’s little secret that the size of today’s cars, SUVs, and trucks fuel this epidemic.
In the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determines vehicle design and safety standards. NHTSA is asking for comment on plans to overhaul the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), its five-star safety rating program that’s advertised to consumers. We commend them for initiating this long-awaited overhaul – the current system ignores many proven innovations and “star inflation” has rendered the ratings almost meaningless. We have specific recommendations on how to improve safety ratings, but that is only a start. The federal government can do so much more to address the harm done by vehicles, and here’s how:
NCAP safety ratings encourage car manufacturers to adopt innovations, but the federal government can also require safety innovations as standard equipment in new cars – just like they did with seatbelts and airbags. Specifically, NHTSA should require that mature technologies like automatic emergency braking, better headlamps, intelligent speed assistance, redesigned hoods and bumpers, and direct visibility requirements be incorporated directly into the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) that apply to all new vehicles. Similar vehicle safety assessment programs elsewhere across the globe already include these standards and the United States has fallen behind.
What’s at stake?
We support better safety information to guide consumer choices. But if NHTSA is serious about making streets safe for everyone on them, it needs to add requirements that tackle vehicle size, visibility, and speed directly into the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
Vehicle safety standards that save the lives of people outside cars shouldn’t be optional. Want to tell this to NHTSA? Now’s the opportunity to send NHTSA your comments! You can use this message as a template:
Dear Deputy Administration Cliff:
I write to commend NHTSA for taking initial steps to ensure vehicles are safer for people outside cars in its revised New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). However, NHTSA needs to do significantly more to protect people on foot, on bikes, and using mobility devices from the increasing threat of large vehicles.
For over a decade, the number of pedestrians and cyclists killed on our streets has steadily risen every year and its little secret that the size of today’s cars and trucks fuel this epidemic. NHSTA’s recently released numbers on rising pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities demonstrate the need for urgent action to address this crisis.
I join America Walks and other organizations to ask that NHTSA take immediate steps to protect people outside of cars.
At the very least, this means new NCAP safety ratings that rigorously measure and rate cars for:
- Features capable of sensing and protecting people outside vehicles, including children, bicyclists, people using mobility devices, and people with darker skin tones;
- Intelligent speed assistance systems that automatically limit unsafe speeds;
- Smaller and safer hood and bumper designs to reduce fatalities and serious injuries for people outside vehicles;
- Direct visibility requirements that allow drivers to see people outside of vehicles, especially children.
I also ask NHTSA to commit to including these same technologies and designs in an updated Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS).
Vehicle safety standards that save the lives of people outside cars shouldn’t be left to consumer choice. NHTSA mandates equipment like seatbelts and airbags that protect vehicle occupants; it needs to update the FMVSS to protect everyone on our streets, not just those in vehicles.