8 Members of Congress ask NHTSA to address Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety | Congressman Bobby Rush

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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?

MoBikeFed comment: The Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation and a large number of our peer organizations around the country have been working to improve automobile standards to improve safety for people who walk and bicycle.

Some technology--like self-driving cars--is simply not ready yet to safely negotiate public streets alongside people who walk and bicycle.

But many existing technologies are available that could dramatically improve safety for people who walk and bicycle. These technologies could also be used to vastly improve safety for self-driving cars if and when those become viable.

The issue with automatic braking systems and similar safety fail-safe systems is that they are capable of improving safety for people who walk and bicycle.

However, Congress and Federal agencies, like NHTSA, have not been vigorous enough in requiring these system to detect people who walk and bicycle.

To date, Federal requirements for these systems revolve solely around their ability to detect other automobiles on the road.

Countries around the world have required these systems to also detect people who walk and bicycle. The systems are able to do this successfully and safety has been greatly improved.

We urge U.S. regulators to require the same of these safety systems in the United State, we applaud these Members of Congress for raising the issue, and we urge many more Members of Congress to join them on this important issue.