Politics is not something we like to brush on if at all possible. But occasionally, the tribal warfare of American politics has profound effects that find their way into the automotive industry. The addition of a new vehicle safety provision to the latest proposed government infrastructure bill is a classic case in point.
Tucked inside one of the most controversial infrastructure bills in American history is a series of provisions that hope to bring badly needed aid to sections of the auto industry that need it most. The primary concern, experts say, is outdated regulations that have failed to take the latest research in crash protection technology into account.
One CBS investigation reported that it had been known for decades that rear-end collisions stand a chance of collapsing the front driver and passenger seat and propel the occupants head-first into the back of the vehicle.
All seats in a street-legal road vehicle must pass NHTSA guidelines before approval for production. But as the report showed, these regulations date back to the 1960s. New provisions tucked in a much larger and holistic infrastructure bill finally aim to address these concerns from advocacy groups and leadership within the auto industry itself.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tests thousands of vehicles to a set standard of safety that’s undoubtedly saved lives over the years. But years of political turmoil threaten to degrade that standard unless a direct influx of new funds is obtained. It will take a substantial monetary donation in order to keep the organization running smoothly.
The fate of new safety laws that could remedy these oversights, as well as countless other infrastructure problems, rests in the hands of the politicians in Washington D.C., who are currently deadlocked over how to proceed. The Biden administration hopes to have the bill passed in time to avoid a potential government shutdown in October.