February 1, 2024
Hello all, and happy February.
After what feels like the longest month of all time, I’m very happy to be back here with you all in our regular format. Now, we’ve got two months of updates to catch up on – please bear with me as I try to keep it concise!
First, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) missed their rulemaking deadline, again. Back in March 2023, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report titled Vehicle Safety: DOT Should Take Additional Actions to Improve the Information Obtained from Crash Test Dummies. They found, as we suspected they would, that NHTSA’s current female crash test dummies do not accurately represent American women, nor are they deployed equally as the male. Shockingly, NHTSA agreed with the findings, and promised to publish a response by September 4th, 2023.
Less shockingly, they did not. Instead, they told the GAO to wait until December, when they planned on releasing a rulemaking on female crash test dummies. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, NHTSA decided to delay the rulemaking until September 2024.
While this new date may not seem all too far away, NHTSA's continued reluctance to deliver on promises is deeply frustrating and concerning, although not surprising. This is an agency, funded by taxpayer dollars, that has repeatedly failed to act to save American lives. Worse yet, it is possible that a new administration will be leading the agency come January 2025; we have seen no indications that a Trump NHTSA would be more favorable to or proactive on establishing stricter regulations that benefit women and girls.
So, we decided to do something about it. On December 15th, we sent a letter to Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg and NHTSA, alongside actress AnnaSophia Robb, author Caroline Criado Perez, Olympic Nordic Skiier and World Champion Sophia Laukli, professional golfer and creative director Paris Hilinski, activist Paxton Smith, and more. Together, we called on NHTSA and the DOT to act sooner than September 2024, and to commit to testing female dummies in the driver’s seat.
On January 16th, we received a response from NHTSA Acting Administrator Sophie Shulman. Although we are very grateful to have heard back, we are disappointed that the agency refused to commit to a timeline or to testing the female dummy in the driver’s seat. We will continue to press NHTSA and the DOT on this issue, and hope you will join us. If you haven't already, please sign our petition here.
Second, I was honored to participate in the National Safety Council’s Countersteer webinar in December. I am continually inspired by the young people who are fighting to make our transportation systems more safe, fair, and just, and this time was no different. Thank you to my incredible co-panelists, Jacob Smith, Alison Collard de Beaufort, Lakshmi Jimenez, and Natalie Draisin, and to the National Safety Council for putting it on. A recording of the panel can be found here.
Third, our newest addition of Let’s Talk, the Instagram Live series where we explore activism with young people doing the work, featured women’s rights activist Paxton Smith. Paxton, who first came to fame after using her high school valedictorian speech in Texas to discuss the importance of abortion rights, is now a nationally-renown activist and burgeoning musician. This was one of my favorite Let’s Talks we’ve done – check out the full video here.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you. Your support, through all that Drive has been, done, and fought for, has kept us alive. Thank you for believing in us.