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Legislation and Regulation

Auto safety standards guarantee that everyone who steps inside a vehicle is provided a basic level of safety, while other auto and truck safety regulations aim in other ways at reducing traffic deaths and injuries.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are responsible for auto and truck safety regulations and programs. 

In developing auto and truck safety regulations, NHTSA and FMCSA post upcoming rules in a public, online docket. Anyone can comment to the docket through this on-line interface.   Public Citizen comments on multiple rulemakings each year.

Congress will sometimes pass auto and truck safety legislation directing NHTSA and FMCSA to issue safety regulations.  Issue-specific safety bills are passed, as in the case of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act following auto safety debacles, when serious flaws and omissions in current regulations are brought to light by avoidable tragedies on the highways. Auto safety laws are also often part of the legislation reauthorizing the mission of agencies within Department of Transportation, and may also be included in bills regarding the nation's dependence on fossil fuels or national security.

Public Citizen conducts public education in support of consumer safety in numerous bills through our testimony, research , and public awareness campaigns.

Automakers have historically resisted auto safety regulations and covered up dangerous defects.  New and upgraded safety regulations are needed to ensure that consumers are protected in vehicles.

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