BY BROOKE SMITH
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed three key pieces of transportation-related legislation that Congresswoman Grace Meng sponsored.
The provisions seek to enhance the safety of school buses, improve the performance of car seats and protect motorists’ privacy in driverless vehicles. They were attached to the $325 billion Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act, which fund the nation’s roads, bridges, highways and mass transit systems.
One measure will require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review existing federal and state rules that cover things such as bus maintenance, driver training, inspection standards and public access to inspection results and accident data. After review, experts will issue recommendations on best practices that aim to improve the safety and reliability of school bus transportation.
The legislation also mandates that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration improves data collection on the types of child restraint systems in use when a child is involved in an automobile accident. Data will be collected for three years followed by a mandate for the Secretary of Transportation to submit a report to Congress on the performance of different types of child restraint systems, including the types of child restraint system in use and whether restraints were placed forward or rear facing when a crash occurred.
Finally, the legislation would also address privacy protection in driverless cars. For consumers, this means privacy protections will be added to the list of items the GAO must assess when evaluating the readiness and challenges of autonomous vehicle technologies such as driverless cars. A report will then be provided to Congress to ensure that these issues are addressed when this technology is rolled out in the future.
“These measures will go a long way towards saving children’s lives, preventing future tragedies and ensuring that privacy protections are addressed for future driving technology,” Meng said.
The Senate has already passed its version of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act. They will either adopt the House measure or reconcile differences in the two bills before sending the legislation to the President.