Lives Matter vs. Money Matters
More evidence of the rigged system where money matters more than lives.
Lives Matter Citizens petitioned NHTSA in January, 2016 to save nearly 100 lives per year based on NHTSA research on automatic emergency braking technologies. See
Statement of Joan Claybrook, Former NHTSA Administrator, on Automatic Emergency Brakes
With today’s announcement on Automatic Emergency Brakes (AEB), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has failed the public by cutting a secret deal with auto makers for a voluntary unenforceable standard. In recent years, the agency also failed the public with secret meetings with auto companies about deadly defects it took years to recall. Enough is enough. Let the public in.
In 1966 Congress created NHTSA, authorizing issuance of mandatory vehicle safety standards, saying this was necessary because voluntary industry standards don’t work.
Fifty years later, in 2016, NHTSA has abrogated its responsibility to the public by excluding suppliers and the public and secretly supporting auto company voluntary installation of AEB. The agency/industry deal allows six to nine years for installation even though about half of the most popular 2016 models already offer AEB. This deal could slow down rather than speed up additional installation. NHTSA itself says its mandatory vehicle standards have saved over 600,000 lives.
Further, the performance requirements agreed to by NHTSA and auto companies are still secret and thus the public cannot comment on or evaluate them. A voluntary standard is not enforceable and it is insane to trust auto companies given the string of cover-ups and defect failures in recent years. Auto companies can impose excessive prices on optional AEB systems, linking their availability to other expensive add-ons like heated steering wheels, thus excluding lower-bracket buyers.
Reverting to voluntary standards undermines NHTSA’s credibility, thwarts innovation that mandatory regulation encourages, discourages new NHTSA research and receipt of Congressional funding, and allows the auto companies to secretly set the terms of the standard to accommodate their production and financial investments in new vehicles.
NHTSA should do its job and propose a mandatory AEB safety standard in response to the petition filed in January 2016 by consumer groups.