Page 5 - Public Citizen News November-December 2013

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November/December 2013
5
Public Citizen News
Gulbransen Kids Transportation
Safety Act, which requires the
DOT to issue a safety standard
to improve rear visibility in new
light vehicles, including cars,
SUVs and minivans.
Unfortunately, the statute has
not fixed the problem — yet.
This law directed the DOT to is-
sue a rule — by February 2011 — to
require improved rear visibility
in new vehicles. The law allowed
the agency, however, to extend
the deadline if it “cannot bemet.”
The DOT issued a proposed
regulation in December 2010 that
would require enhanced rear visi-
bility in vehicles, and it estimated
that the rule, when implement-
ed, would avert 95 to 112 deaths
and 7,072 to 8,374 injuries each
year. In November 2011 — already
months after the statutory dead-
line — the agency sent the draft
of the final version of the rule to
the Office of Management and
Budget for review. This review
process is limited by executive
order to 120 days. But the rule
languished there for more than a
year and a half, while advocates
speculated that the auto industry
was pressuring the administra-
tion to delay or water down the
rule. Meanwhile, the DOT noti-
fied Congress that it was extend-
ing the deadline.
In June, the DOT withdrew the
proposed rule and told Congress
that it now expected to issue the
rule in January 2015 — the fourth
such delay. The agency claimed
it needed more time to study the
matter — even though it already
had conducted research that it
characterized as “extensive.” If
the DOT sticks to its latest time-
line, issuing a rule in January
Visibility
, from page 1
Image Courtesy of KidsAndCars.org
2015, it will miss the statutory
deadline by four years.
Seeking to prevent further inju-
ries and deaths as a result of the
administration’s persistent de-
lay, auto safety advocates includ-
ing Gulbransen filed a lawsuit in
the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
Second Circuit to compel the DOT
to issue the rule.
Scott Michelman, an attorney
in the Public Citizen Litigation
Group, is lead counsel in the law-
suit, which asks the court to or-
der the DOT to issue the final rule
within 90 days.
“When Congress ordered the
Transportation Department to is-
sue the rule in three years, they
meant three years, not seven,”
Michelman said. “The agency has
flagrantly flouted Congress’ in-
struction.”
Along with Gulbransen, the
petitioners include Sue Au-
riemma, who injured her daugh-
ter in a backover incident, and
three advocacy groups that
have championed the issue: Ad-
vocates for Highway and Auto
Safety, Consumers Union and
KidsAndCars.org.
The lawsuit has garnered me-
dia coverage ranging from The
New York Times and USA Today
to “Good Morning America” and
the “Today” show.
“The Transportation Depart-
ment’s delay contradicts the law
and imposes an enormous cost in
human life, particularly the lives
of small children,” Michelman
said. “We hope the court will rec-
ognize the urgency of holding the
agency to Congress’ mandate.”
The court will likely decide
the case sometime next year.
If it forces the agency to act, in-
creased rear visibility would be-
come a requirement.
“This rule will come too late for
Cameron, but it will save thou-
sands of other children’s lives,”
Gulbransen wrote in a Washing-
ton Post op-ed discussing the
lawsuit.
For more information, visit
http://bit.ly/H5G3D8.
Lawsuit Presses for Improved Rear Visibility in Vehicles
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