Infrastructure Bill Includes Proposals to Stop Drunk Driving
The U.S. Senate is considering a $1 trillion infrastructure plan, which now has bipartisan support. Among the numerous new rules and regulations in the 2,702-page bill are many that concern automobiles and driving.
While the bill includes $7.5 billion to install new electric vehicle (EV) charging stations across America, it’s only half of the $15B initially sought by the Biden administration to install 500,000 chargers on highways that crisscross the nation. A separate spending bill has been proposed to include the other $7.5B.
And while the original infrastructure bill called for $100B in subsidies to spur consumer demand for EVs, it wasn’t included in the current bill. Instead, lawmakers will address it in a future funding bill that will most likely result in a $12,500 rebate for the purchase of vehicles that American union workers assemble.
Other sections of the bill pertain to automotive safety. One calls for the strengthening of front seats after a CBS investigation found that a rear-end collision could collapse and propel the front seat into the rear compartment, where children often sit. The report claims that more than 100 people have died due to this failure in the past 30 years, while other studies say that strengthening the seats could prevent 50 American deaths a year.
New safety mandates included in the proposed bill include features that the government would require in every vehicle sold in the United States. One concerns technology that would detect a driver who is under the influence of alcohol. Among various technologies that exist, one would use sensors to detect the movement of the driver’s eyes, such as on gadgets used by law enforcement personnel during DUI stops. If impairment is detected, the vehicle would be immobilized. The Department of Transportation is to set standards in the next three years, after which automakers will have two years to comply. An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study says that such systems could prevent 9,000 deaths a year.
Another mandate would include sensors that note when the rear door has been opened and chime when the driver shuts off the car to remind the driver to check the back seat. The rear-seat reminder system aims to prevent “hot car deaths” that have claimed 893 young lives since 1998 when children have been inadvertently left unattended in a vehicle. The automotive industry has committed to installing rear-seat reminders in all cars by 2025.
Rear-seat reminder is already standard on Ford, GM, and Nissan vehicles. Still, it isn’t as sophisticated as systems in upper trim levels of certain Hyundai, Genesis, and Kia models, which can detect movement in the rear seat, send warning texts to the driver, and start honking the vehicle’s horn if action is not taken.
In addition, the government would mandate automatic emergency braking for every new vehicle under the new proposal, but most automakers already include this helpful feature in almost every car they produce.
Various news outlets are the sources of information for this article. It was accurate on August 3, 2021, but it may have changed since that date.