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U.S. House Subcommittee holds Hearing on Fuel Economy and Clean Car Standards

This week the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Consumer Protection & Commerce and the Subcommittee on Environment & Climate Change held a joint hearing entitled “Driving in Reverse: The Administration’s Rollback of Fuel Economy and Clean Car Standards.” In an effort to combat climate change, remain competitive globally in the automotive industry, improve air quality standards, and keep jobs for American’s, the subcommittees explored the Administration’s proposed roll back of fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for Model Year (MY) 2021-2026 light-duty cars and trucks.

The Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to establish Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for cars and light trucks to reduce fuel consumption and encourage Americans to invest in clean, more efficient vehicles. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets greenhouse gas (GHG) standards for vehicles under the Clean Air Act Amendments (CAA). Additionally, under the same law, the EPA may grant waivers of preemption that would allow a state to implement its own standards, as it has done with California many times. Due to overlap, the EPA and NHTSA announced they would be working together to standardize CAFE and GHG standards, as well as California standards, rather than automakers adhering to a patchwork of regulations.

Under the Administration, the EPA and NHTSA announced they would reconsider the final decision from 2017 for CAFE and GHG standards. In 2018 the agencies submitted a notice of proposed rulemaking, the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for MY 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks, that would maintain current standards through MY 2020 but would freeze the standard after that and withdraw California’s waiver. Subcommittee members on both sides of the aisle expressed concerns regarding the rollback arguing that the rule would eliminate approximately 60,000 jobs from the automotive industry, CO2 emissions, gasoline and oil consumption would increase, ultimately decreasing the quality of air for Americans, increasing the number of auto-related deaths per year, and costing consumers more money. Representatives from NHTSA and the EPA did not agree.

Witnesses:

  • The Honorable William L. Wehrum, Assistant Administrator, Office of Air and Radiation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

 

  • Heidi King, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation

 

  • The Honorable Mary D. Nichols, Chair, California Air Resources Board

 

  • David Friedman, Vice President, Advocacy, Consumer Reports

 

  • Ramzi Y. Hermiz, President and Chief Executive Officer, Shiloh Industries, Inc.

 

  • Josh Nassar, Legislative Director, United Auto Worker

 

  • The Honorable Jeff Landry, Attorney General, State of Louisiana

 

  • David Schwietert, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers

 

  • Nick Loris, Deputy Director of the Thomas A. Roe institute for Economic Policy; Herbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow in Energy and Environmental Policy, Heritage Foundation

To view the hearing in its entirety, click here.

Louisiana Legislature Passes Shop Choice Bill

State Representative Terry Landry (D-96) introduced House Bill 411, which changes current restrictions on insurance companies directing consumers to specific motor vehicle repair shops. Current law prohibits an insurer from requiring an insured to use a particular place or shop as a condition when making a payment incident to a claim, while the proposed law allows the insurer to provide options for consumers when selecting a motor vehicle repair shop. Insurers must inform consumers that they are not required to use the recommended repair facility. The legislation was introduced on March 29, 2019 and passed the Louisiana House of Representatives and Senate. The bill has been signed by the Governor and will go into effect on August 1, 2019. The Louisiana Legislature ended their regular legislative session on June 6, 2019.

OEM Repair Procedures Bill Introduced in New York

On May 31, 2019, Assembly Bill 8050 was introduced in the New York General Assembly, which requires compliance with collision repair guidelines and service bulletins issued by vehicle or original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and forbids insurance companies from requiring repair shops to deviate from those guidelines without the written consent of the vehicle owner. Additionally, if an OEM repair procedure requires scans or a diagnostic test of the vehicle, it will be considered as part of the repair procedure.

ASA supports OEM repair procedure legislation and AB 8050. Following OEM repair procedure guidelines not only ensures that the vehicle is being repaired efficiently but ensures the best opportunity for safety for the motoring public. The bill has been assigned to the Assembly’s Insurance Committee.

To read more about the bill, click here.

Missouri Anti-Vehicle Safety Inspection Language Added to Additional Legislation

Missouri State Representative J. Eggleston introduced House Bill 451, that would have repealed the requirement that motor vehicles be inspected before being licensed. This bill would have eliminated a program that is specifically designed to protect the motoring public. This legislation passed the Missouri House of Representatives but failed to make it to the Missouri Senate floor for a final vote.

Regular safety inspections by a qualified technician can identify and repair most safety issues that can arise from normal wear and tear on a vehicle. Without a vehicle safety inspection program in place these normal wear and tear issues will go unnoticed and put the motoring public at risk.

While House Bill 451 died in the Senate, two additional bills saw language added that dilute the vehicle safety inspection. Senate Bill 89 and Senate Bill 147 have been sent to Missouri Governor Michael Parson for signature.

The Automotive Service Association urges Missouri repairers and vehicle owners to contact Governor Parson’s office. To oppose these bills and for them not to be signed into law.

Call Governor Parson’s office at (573) 751-3222 or email his office here.

U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce holds Hearing on Summer Driving Dangers and Vehicle Technologies

The U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce convened a hearing entitled, “Summer Driving Dangers: Exploring Ways to Protect Drivers and Their Families.” In her opening statement, Chairwoman Schakowsky (D-IL) stated that the Subcommittee seeks to explore safety technologies to be put in vehicles to further reduce human error and prevent fatalities, as well as announcing the reintroduction of the HOT CARS Act, with Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Congressman Pete King (R-NY).

The HOT CARS Act was initially introduced last Congress and died in the U.S. House Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection. The legislation would “direct the Department of Transportation to issue a rule to require that all new passenger motor vehicles…be equipped with a system for rear seating positions to alert (by an auditory and visual alert that may be combined with a haptic alert) the motor vehicle operator to check rear designated seating positions after the vehicle motor is deactivated.”

Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH), stated that 94% of vehicular accidents are due to human error and distraction. In a memorandum to the subcommittee, it is noted that “heatstroke is one of the leading causes of non-crash related fatalities…the number of deaths [due to heatstroke] peaked last year to 52”. Legislation such as the HOT CARS Act, and the deployment of autonomous vehicles, seeks to further eliminate human error and utilize advanced driving assistance technologies to increase the safety of vehicles and the motoring public.

Witnesses:

  • Janette Fennell, President and Founder, KidsAndCars.org
  • Miles Harrison, Father of Chase Harrison
  • Jason Levine, Executive Director, Center for Auto Safety
  • Gary Shapiro, President and CEO, Consumer Technology Association

To view the hearing in its entirety, click here.

U.S. House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on the Oversight of the Federal Trade Commission

On May 8, 2019, the Chairman and four Commissioners from the Federal Trade Commission testified in front the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce in a hearing entitled, “Oversight of the FTC: Strengthening Protections for Americans’ Privacy and Data Security.” The FTC’s mission is to protect consumers from unfair or deceptive practices, however, as Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) pointed out in his opening statement, the “FTC has fewer employees today than it did in the 1980’s when the Internet did not exist. It has just over 40 employees responsible for protecting the data of 300 million Americans.” Chairman Pallone, Chairwoman of the Subcommittee Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR), and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), all echo similar sentiments in their opening statements acknowledging the need to pass comprehensive consumer privacy legislation, and working with the FTC to learn how Congress can assist the FTC with increasing resources and in fulfilling their mission of better protecting consumer data privacy, competition, and innovation.

To view the hearing in its entirety, click here.

California Department of Insurance holds Hearing on How Automobile Insurance Groups Affect Driver Premiums

On Tuesday September 17, 2019, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara will hold a hearing in Los Angeles to learn how insurers’ use “affinity group” criteria, such as occupation or education level, to set automobile insurance rates. California’s insurance code “permits insurers to issue insurance coverage on a group basis; however, the rates charged for any group insurance are also required to comply with other applicable California laws.” Commissioner Lara has received complaints that drivers with similar driving characteristics are receiving different automobile group rates due to affinity group criteria.

To view the press release from the California Department of Insurance, click here.

To view the Notice for the hearing, click here.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Proposes Research on Driver Interactions with ADAS Technologies

Motor vehicle technology is becoming more sophisticated, and it is common to see vehicles that include advanced driver assistant technologies. These technologies include cruise control, lane keeping assistance, automatic emergency brakes, etc. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) believes that these technologies “have the potential to dramatically reduce the number of motor vehicle crashes, injuries, and associated economic costs” that can be related with human error while driving. The implementation of these technologies in vehicles is highly dependent on the driver understanding the functions of the systems.

NHTSA has proposed to research drivers’ interactions with certain advanced driver assistance technologies. As part of the research, NHTSA is collecting information from the public to learn about drivers use and interactions with this technology, as well as an on-road driving experiment in which participants, those with and without experience using driver assistance systems, will engage driver assistance technologies.

 

To view the entire notice and instructions on submitting comments, click here.

NHTSA Drops Proposed Rule on Brake-Throttle Override Systems

This week Reuters reported that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) “will drop rules that were first proposed in 2012 that would have required automakers to install brake-throttle override systems to prevent runaway vehicles.”

NHTSA determined that the rule was no longer necessary as automakers have voluntarily installed these systems in vehicles and don’t anticipate automakers removing this system.

To view the proposed rule, click here.

Democrats Introduce Legislation for Zero-Emission Vehicles by 2040

Today, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and U.S. Congressman Mike Levin (D-CA) introduced the Zero-Emission Vehicles Act of 2019, that would make all new car sales zero-emissions vehicles by 2040. Senator Merkley and Congressman Levin are the lead sponsors on the bill. The legislation has already garnered support in both the House and Senate.

To view Senator Merkley’s remarks, click here.

To view Congressman Levin’s remarks, click here.

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