OMBUDSMAN ALERT: US Dept. of Transportation, Quit Stalling on Enforcement of Automatic Emergency Braking for all New Autos


As Ralph Nader’s representative back in the last quarter of the 20th century, the author of this column first joined the efforts of his Center for Auto Safety, established in 1970, to help promote auto safety on our US highways.

In order to follow up on this critical mission, I will now share with our readers the latest concern of the Center on the urgent need to enforce the implementation of, perhaps, one of the most important safety measures that our US technology has developed in decades: Automatic emergency braking for new autos.

Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, is quoted in an email to the Ombudsman Alert dated Thursday, December 21, 2017 as follows:

“For years. the Center for Auto Safety has been calling for all new vehicles to be required to have Automatic Emergency Braking. DOT Secretary Chao gave herself a pat on the back for allowing the auto industry to continue to pick and choose which new cars will contain this life saving technology, playing roulette with the lives of consumers who cannot afford safety as a luxury.

“A voluntary agreement for most new vehicles to have AEB by 2022 is worth less than the paper today’s press release was written on. Instead of being embarrassed to be part of this unenforceable agreement, for which no oversight is being done and no minimum performance standard exists, the DOT has put out a press release expecting to be congratulated on yet another example of the deregulation delirium that’s sweeping the Trump Administration. Without a mandate for AEB, more lives will be lost than necessary in the interest of putting profits over people and shareholders before safety.

“Safety technology should never be an afterthought or something reserved exclusively for the rich. With 37,461 traffic deaths last year, America deserves better than a Department of Transportation willing to accept breadcrumbs from the auto industry when it comes to safety. NHTSA should stop being a paper tiger and start writing mandatory regulations for AEB immediately. The ‘S’ in NHTSA stands for ‘safety’ and not ‘sellout.’”

The Ombudsman Alert asks our readers who agree with the above assessment of the critical need for immediate attention to this safety matter, as we enter this new year of 2018, to write to or email the members of the US House of Representatives and US Senate that you elected, suggesting that they write bills that would enforce much better standards to implement the urgent need for AEB.

You may be certain that the Ombudsman Alert will follow through on his own with these recommendations.

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