In a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 10 U.S. Democratic senators have requested updates on safety regulations mandated by Congress.

In some cases, several years have passed since laws were passed, but NHTSA has not implemented those or more recent laws created a year ago regarding what the senators call "critical safety provisions."

Signing the letter were Sens. Chris Van Hollen, D-MD; Edward J. Markey, D-MA; Richard Blumenthal, D-CT; Sherrod Brown, D-OH; Dick Durbin, D-IL; Elizabeth Warren, D-MA; Amy Klobuchar, D-MN; Jack Reed, D-RI; Ron Wyden, D-OR; and Ben Ray Luján, D-NM.

The letter notes how nearly 43,000 people died in vehicle crashes in 2021 and that number may be matched or exceeded once 2022 fatalities are calculated.

According to the letter to NHTSA:

“When issuing new safety measures, regulators have too often crawled through yellow lights or stalled at red lights. By passing a historic, bipartisan infrastructure law, Congress gave NHTSA the green light to put its pedal to the metal to reduce motor vehicle fatalities.”

The senators have asked federal safety regulators to provide updates on multiple safety provisions mandated a year ago by law.


NHTSA has not published a list of recall completion rates.


The law says NHTSA must issue an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking to update federal safety standards regarding vehicle seatbacks.

Automatic Vehicle Shutoff

NHTSA is supposed to issue a final rule to require manufacturers of vehicles with keyless ignitions to install devices that automatically shut down a vehicle after it has idled for a certain period of time.

Crash Avoidance Technology

By law, NHTSA must require all cars be equipped with forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist systems.

Driver Distraction

Section 24209 directs NHTSA to conduct research on driver monitoring systems to reduce driver distraction and disengagement from the task of driving.


NHTSA still has not issued a final rule regarding performance-based standards for headlights.

Hoods and Bumpers

Safety regulators must officially request comments regarding how hood and bumper standards may be updated.

Other items mentioned in the letter include studying how automakers are required to make early warning reports used to identify possibly safety-related problems, and how NHTSA must also issue a final rule about technology to prevent driving while impaired.

In addition, regulators have the job of requiring new vehicles with systems or technology to alert drivers to check the rear seats after the engines are shut off in case a child is in the seat.

According to the senators, they "are hopeful that NHTSA will regain its rightful place as a global leader in road safety."

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