December 1, 2023
Hi all, and happy December.
For this month’s newsletter, I wanted to try something a little different. Instead of sharing three big updates (and plugging upcoming events like these), I thought it might be fruitful to explain where the movement is at this moment. As you all may have noticed, things have been a bit stagnant. I want to explain why that is, and why it’s (hopefully) changing.
First, an update, or lack thereof, on our petition. As you may remember, we sent our petition to President Biden, Secretary Buttigieg, and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Acting Administrator Ann Carlson late this summer with over 18,000 signatures. It has continued to grow, and now has more than 26,000 supporters. Despite this, the Biden Administration and NHTSA have failed to release the report they agreed to. This report would have detailed their plan for ending the gender disparity in car crash fatalities and injuries – a critical next step in making cars safe for women. We are disappointed that they chose to forego this commitment without recognition or explanation.
Second, the appropriations language. As you are likely aware, the government appropriations process has not gone smoothly for Fiscal Year 2024 (see: rotating Speaker of the House, physical fights, two near-government-shutdowns, general mayhem). However, we were pleased to see that the report language that we worked on with various members of Congress remains in the Senate’s approved Appropriations Report, and we are hopeful that it will emerge unscathed from the House’s too. Should this be true, we see it as likely that the language will survive conference. Under the new “laddered” Continuing Resolution, the final Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill is due January 19th. Until then, we wait.
Lastly, rulemaking. According to NHTSA, there will be a rulemaking on the THOR 5th female dummy in December 2023. The THOR 5th, or THOR 5F, is a crash test dummy that’s modeled after the bodies of people assigned female at birth. It is far more representative than the current dummy, the Hybrid III 5th, and is far overdue. The model has been under development since 2003, and passed biofidelity tests (which measure accuracy in body representation) in 2020. Like the petition and report, rulemaking is at the will of Secretary Buttigieg and the good people at NHTSA. We will continue to pressure them to meet these deadlines, although their track record is, historically, discouraging – especially to the American taxpayers who pay their salaries.
Thank you for reading this far, and for your ongoing support for our work. We could not do it without you. and one more plug – I am honored to participate in the National Safety Council’s panel on youth transportation safety. Make sure to tune in on December 8th here!