06.15.21

Peters Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Investigate Federal Vehicle Safety Tests

Current Vehicle Safety Testing Does Not Use Representative Female Crash Dummies; Bill Would Require a Government Accountability Office Study on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Use of Crash Test Dummies

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, announced he introduced bipartisan legislation to improve the federal government’s vehicle safety testing practices, specifically around crash test dummies. The Furthering Advanced and Inclusive Research for Crash Tests Act (FAIR Crash Tests Act), which Peters introduced with U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE), would order a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study of federal vehicle safety tests. The tests fail to use crash test dummies that are representative of women, especially in the driver’s seat, even though research suggests that women have a higher likelihood of being killed or significantly injured in a car crash.

“The current federal vehicle safety tests are simply outdated and need to be modernized,” said Senator Peters, chair of the Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation “This bill would require a comprehensive look into – and improve our understanding of – how federal vehicle safety tests impact the safety of all drivers and passengers on our roads. Improving vehicle safety and testing standards will save lives, and I’ll be working with my colleagues on a bipartisan basis to move this legislation forward.”

“Crash tests are key to ensuring that vehicles on the road are safe for all Americans. Current crash test dummies are modeled after male bodies, resulting in incomplete safety data on the impact of vehicle crashes on women, even though women are 73 percent more likely to be seriously injured in auto crashes than men. Our bipartisan legislation would help ensure that vehicles are as safe for women passengers as they are for men,” said Senator Fischer.

“We are truly grateful for the Senator’s leadership in introducing the FAIR Crash Tests Act. Research shows women are 17% more likely to die and 73% more likely to be seriously injured in a vehicle crash than men, but NHTSA’s star safety rating new car assessment program does not test women in the drivers’ seat. Clearly the existing rules are not adequate to protect women. We are encouraged that this bill pushes NHTSA to address this situation.  We firmly believe that NHTSA should test with updated devices for both men and women,” said Chris O’Connor, President and CEO of Humanetics Group, a Michigan-based crash test dummy manufacturing company.

Currently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 5-star vehicle safety rating program does not use the agency’s female crash test dummy in the driver’s seat for all types of crash tests. And NHTSA’s female crash test dummy fails to represent an average woman. This is despite the fact that in 2019, for example, 8,365 women were killed in car crashes in the U.S., with 61 percent of them being in the driver’s seat.

The FAIR Crash Tests Act would order the Government Accountability Office (GAO) – Congress’s watchdog agency – to evaluate the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) failure to use crash test dummies that represent the driving public, especially women, while assessing vehicle safety through its 5-star safety rating program. The bill would also require the GAO to compare NHTSA’s practices to other safety rating programs, such as in Europe, and to evaluate options for strengthening the agency’s vehicle safety testing to reduce gender-based disparities in car crash outcomes. Additionally, the bill would require NHTSA to submit an interim report to Congress explaining what new advanced crash test dummies it is currently studying for potential use in its 5-star safety rating program.

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