Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Vehicle Safety Standards

Now Is The Time To Speak Up For Safer Vehicles

Pedestrian deaths set a 41 year record in the U.S. last year. Here are five ways you can take action to stop the bloodshed right now.

12:01 AM EDT on July 10, 2023

Editor’s note: Ready to take action to demand safer vehicles right away? Scroll to the end.

Year after year, it’s déjà vu. Federal transportation officials release the annual total of pedestrians and cyclists killed on our streets, and every time, it seems like those numbers have gone up.

The year 2023 was no different. But could it also be the year the federal government finally does something about it?

It’s no secret that the growing size and increasingly dangerous design of today’s cars, SUVs, and trucks are fueling our national road death epidemic. It’s also no secret that size and design are within the federal government’s power to regulate, through requirements like the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and safety ratings like the New Car Assessment Program.

The good news: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has put forward multiple proposals in recent months to make vehicles safer for pedestrians and cyclists, including the first-ever pedestrian safety rating system for NCAP, a rule that requires live-saving technology that brakes for pedestrians, and an assessment of side underride guards on large trucks to prevent people from being swept underneath them.  

The bad news: none of these proposals go nearly far enough. The pedestrian safety rating system is set up so that a vehicle could receive a failing grade, but still earn a top five-star overall safety rating. The automatic emergency braking rule does not require the system to detect cyclists, despite the fact that cycling detection technology exists. And in a shocking exposé, ProPublica and Frontline revealed that NHTSA administrators had shared their proposal for side underride guards with representatives from the trucking industry in advance — and watered the proposal down to the point that key safety studies were excluded and pedestrians and cyclists weren’t considered at all

That’s the sorry state of NHTSA’s safety proposals — and you can be sure that auto industry lobbyists are still working overtime to undermine them as much as possible.

So now is the time to speak up and send a message to NHTSA that Americans demand a strong response to deadly vehicles. And we already have: last year, Americans submitted over 16,000 comments to NHTSA voicing their support for an overhaul of vehicle safety. That’s what got us to this point with these new proposals on the table. Now, we need to take action again. 

If you’re ready to speak up for safer vehicles, there are several quick and easy ways to do so. With just one click, you can submit comments in support of…

  • …A stronger pedestrian safety rating system (through either America Walks or Salud America!; closes July 25), 
  • …Automatic emergency braking that can detect everyone on the road (through America Walks; closes August 14), 
  • …Side underride guards that keep pedestrians and cyclists safe (through the League of American Bicyclists; closes July 20). 

Consumer Reports is also collecting stories in support of pedestrian automatic emergency braking, and you can submit your own comments through on pedestrian safety rating systems; automatic emergency braking systems; and side underride guards.

Ben Crowther is the advocacy manager for America Walks.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

NYC Debuts Public E-Bike Charging for Delivery Workers

Finally, they’re taking charge! The city’s first public e-bike charging station opened in Cooper Square on Thursday — the start of an overdue six-month pilot that is part of a “Charge Safe Ride Safe Action Plan” for delivery workers that Mayor Adams announced last year.

March 1, 2024

Friday’s Headlines Have Questions

What's an optimal rebate to get people to buy e-bikes without wasting money on those who were going to buy one anyway?

March 1, 2024

To Recruit Transit Workers, More Than Just Higher Pay Is Needed

Labor shortages continue threatening public transit systems, and a new report adds another layer to the conversation.

February 29, 2024

Talking Headways Podcast: Streets for Skateboards

Aaron Breetwor on skateboards for transportation and designing streets for safer skateboarding.

February 29, 2024

Agencies Need to Use Federal Funding to Buy Land for Transit Oriented Development

Transit agencies do not prioritize transit-adjacent housing development often because they lack funding to acquire land.

February 29, 2024
See all posts