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Blumenthal-Led Provisions to Improve Auto Safety Included in Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) issued the following statement after the release of bipartisan infrastructure legislation with several provisions he championed to improve auto safety:

“This bipartisan bill includes critical measures I’ve long advocated to strengthen auto safety. It is legislation that provides an important foundation for further action to make our roads safer. It will help end dangerous and deadly carbon monoxide poisonings, and make important strides to address tragic hot car deaths and dangerous rollaway incidents. It will also help bolster car seatback standards, and improve auto recalls and driver-assistance systems. I will fight to strengthen these measures during the amendment process, and push to remove harmful teen truck driver and hours-of-service exemption provisions that would make trucking more dangerous to boost safety on our roads.”

Blumenthal secured the inclusion of several specific auto safety provisions, based on his SCOPE Act, HOT CARS Act and keyless ignition rollaways legislation including:

  • Preventing keyless carbon monoxide poisoning: the legislation includes language Blumenthal authored and secured to require the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to finalize a rule that cars automatically shut off after a period of time to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. The provision would also authorize DOT to establish different periods after which a vehicle would have to shut off, as different vehicles emit carbon monoxide at different rates.
  • Preventing hot car deaths: At Blumenthal’s urging, the bill includes a measure directing NHTSA to issue a rulemaking requiring that new cars come equipped with technology to alert the driver to check the back seat when the car is turned off. It allows states to use federal funding to educate the public on the dangers of leaving a child unattended in the backseat of a car, and requires DOT to study options for retrofitting existing vehicles to address the problem of children being unintentionally left behind in vehicles. This study would provide recommendations to manufacturers to make sure products perform as intended and to consumers on how to select the right technology.
  • Reducing keyless ignition rollaway dangers: Blumenthal also secured the inclusion of a measure requiring DOT to study the feasibility of setting a performance standard to prevent keyless ignition passenger vehicle rollaways.

Blumenthal is a co-sponsor of auto safety measures with U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) to upgrade seatback safety, prevent distracted driving, improve recalls, and enhance defect reporting, provisions of which have been included in the bipartisan infrastructure legislation.

Blumenthal has been fighting against several trucking measures currently included in the legislation that would make operating trucks more dangerous, including a provision that would permit teen truck drivers to drive 18-wheelers and other large trucks and another provision that carves out hours-of-service exemptions for livestock haulers allowing them to operate trucks for longer than directed under current law.