APHA sent a letter to Congress opposing the Comprehensive Transportation and Consumer Protection Act.

APHA sent a letter to Congress opposing the Comprehensive Transportation and Consumer Protection Act.

Last week the Senate Commerce Committee passed the Comprehensive Transportation and Consumer Protection Act, which was incorporated into larger transportation reauthorization legislation. The bill ignores major recalls, allows 18-year-old truck drivers to travel across state lines and makes the road less safe for trucks, buses, cars and motorcycles.

In a media conference call Monday, APHA and other safety advocates warned that the bill would harm the public’s health nationwide. APHA signed onto a letter to Congress last week opposing the bill while supporting both the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and Truck Safety Act, which would include safety requirements such as advanced crash avoidance technology.

“Safety should not be a partisan issue – there is nothing partisan about public safety or transportation safety,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. “It ought to be completely bipartisan.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 32,719 people were killed in roadway crashes in 2013, and 2.3 million more people were injured.

“The congressional battle is critical because this bill will set the agenda for the next six years for the safety of our cars, our highways and our families.” said Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “It will either determine whether we stop cover-ups by the auto industry or allow them to manufacture defective cars and parts with near impunity.”

According to Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of APHA, by the end of the six-year authorization of the bill, there will be nearly 200,000 deaths and more than 12 million injuries related to transportation safety. Recalls from General Motors and Takata were both ignored in the bill, and car dealerships are currently not required to inspect used cars before selling them.

“From my experience as a physician, I am aware of what happens when preventative care is not available,” Benjamin said. “The surface transportation bill being debated in Congress is an opportunity for our federal lawmakers to provide ‘preventative care’ to the millions of American families who use our roads and highways every day.”

A vote to move the measure forward is pending in the Senate.

Visit APHA’s transportation page for reports, fact sheets and toolkits on transportation safety.