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Congressman Pushes for Warning Labels on New Cars Without AM Radio

Rep. Gottheimer says driving a car without AM radio’s warning capabilities is a safety hazard

New Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) is applying more pressure on auto manufactures to keep AM radio in their electric vehicles and new product lines. 

At a press conference this week, in front of a Tesla dealership in his home state, Rep. Gottheimer proposed new action to keep the senior band as a mainstay in future vehicles. In his latest effort, Gottheimer is calling on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to require carmakers who exclude AM radio to paste a safety warning in the window of any new car sold stating: “Warning: No AM Radio. Vehicle Unsafe in Certain Emergencies.”

Gottheimer is also asking NHTSA to add AM radio to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, which would require all automakers, including EV manufacturers, to include AM radio as a stock feature in their vehicles. That action item is something Gottheimer has been advocating for since March 2023, as reported by Radio World

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards are the minimum safety standards that a manufacturer must meet when making a vehicle, including requirements related to airbags, brakes, seatbelts, tires, controls and displays.

Gottheimer, the sponsor of the House version of last year’s AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act, keeps pushing AM radio as a critical safety feature in cars because of its capability to receive public warnings.  

Representative Josh Gottheimer speaks at a press event near a Tesla dealership in Paramus, New Jersey
Rep. Josh Gottheimer speaks at his March 2023 press event in support of AM radio.

[Read more stories about the future of AM radio in cars]

“AM radio is the backbone of America’s National Public Warning System, which provides the public with emergency-alert and warning information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) during natural disasters, extreme weather conditions, chemical spills, health crises and other emergencies,” Gottheimer wrote in his most recent letter to NHTSA.

The New Jersey Democrat reiterates in his letter that Tesla, and other car manufacturers who cut AM radio from the new production vehicles, “put public safety and national emergency management at risk, threatening the safety of the 47 million Americans who listen to AM radio.”

He tells NHTSA: “As you know, the federal government, via FEMA, has invested significantly in backup power and antenna hardening to protect AM radio and ensure its functionality, even in the most significant crises. The importance of AM radio during large-scale emergencies cannot be overstated.”

Meanwhile, the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act (H.R. 3413) now has bipartisan support from 200 members of Congress, Gottheimer says. If eventually passed, the bill would require the Department of Transportation to issue a rule requiring that AM broadcast stations be accessible in all passenger motor vehicles sold in the United States.

[Related: “Attempt to Pass AM for Every Vehicle Act in Senate Falls Short“]

Carmakers have claimed the expense of shielding AM radio from electromagnetic interference in electric vehicles is prohibitive. However, Gottheimer rebutted that theory and took aim at the founder of Tesla.

“Buying a car without AM radio is like buying a car without an emergency parking brake. You may not use it every day, but you’ll be glad you have it if your brakes ever go out,” Gottheimer said in a press release. “I would think that if Elon Musk has enough money to buy Twitter and send rockets to space, he can afford to include AM radio in his Teslas.”

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