Contact: Amaya Smith
Washington, DC—During a subcommittee hearing today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was blasted for issuing a rule that fails to protect drivers and passengers from being injured in a rollover crash.
A bipartisan group of Senators accused NHTSA of overstepping the bounds of a federal agency and threatened Congressional action if the agency included preemption language in the final rule.
Senators cited the fact that state attorneys general spoke out against NHTSA’s attempt to block accident victims’ access to the courts.
Since January 2005, federal agencies have exceeded Congressional authority by issuing 52 rules that preempt state law. Federal regulatory preemption allows corporations to receive complete immunity and escape accountability even when they knowingly injure and endanger consumers with unsafe products. Federal regulation is meant to provide a minimal standard of safety for food, drugs, cars, medical devices and railroads. Under a little known doctrine called preemption, there has been an attempt to erode consumer rights by quietly using federal rules to preempt state lawsuits.
Prior to releasing an updated 2005 rule, NHTSA has not upgraded its standard for roof strength since 1971. Currently, 10,000 people die and 24,000 people are injured in vehicle rollover accidents.
"It has taken NHTSA over 30 years to update roof crush standards which remain weak," said American Association for Justice President Kathleen Flynn Peterson. "These insufficient standards should not preempt the ability of those injured in a rollover accident from seeking justice in a court of law. Congressional opposition to preemption proves that these activist attempts to preempt state law are out of line with efforts to improve auto safety."