Rush, Democratic Colleagues Send Letter to NHTSA on Pedestrian Safety

Jul 24, 2019
Press Release
WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) and seven Democratic members of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce questioned National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Deputy Administrator Heidi King in a letter today on what steps the agency is taking to address the unacceptably high number of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths on America’s roads.  According to preliminary data compiled by NHTSA on motor vehicle crashes in 2018, pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities are skyrocketing, endangering Americans who choose to use these vital means of travel.
“The rise in pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities should be considered a safety emergency, demanding decisive action by NHTSA to ensure that walking, biking, and scootering remain healthy, enjoyable, and safe means of travel,” the lawmakers wrote to NHTSA.  “We urge NHTSA to double down on their efforts to ensure automakers are developing and deploying safety features and technologies that can protect these vulnerable road users.”
Technologies exist that could drastically reduce the number of pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities and some, such as automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems, are already being deployed.  Incorporating pedestrian and bicyclist safety protections into vehicle designs can also help save lives, but currently are not mandated or included in NHTSA’s Five-Star Safety Rating.  In contrast, Europe’s Five-Star Safety Rating encourages automakers to adopt such safety features by assigning safety scores for pedestrian and bicyclist crashworthiness.
The letter, cosigned by U.S. Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), Marc A. Veasey (D-Texas), Robin L. Kelly (D-Ill.), Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), and Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), requests answers to a series of questions by August 14, including:
  • Please detail the scope and findings of NHTSA’ s research on pedestrian and bicyclist AEB technologies, and the testing procedures used to evaluate the extent to which AEB technologies could detect and avoid pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Does NHTSA intend to issue recommendations for AEB standards or best practices?
  • Does NHTSA intend to require or encourage the adoption of pedestrian and bicyclist AEBs?
  • Is NHTSA conducting or has NHTSA conducted research on pedestrian and bicyclist crashworthiness?  If yes, please detail the purpose, scope, and results of such research.
  • Does NHTSA intend to create pedestrian or bicyclist crashworthiness standards? Is NHTSA evaluating whether AEB technologies are able to detect and avoid people of different races and ethnicities, and to identify people in wheelchairs?

The full letter is available below.