NEW JERSEY — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) Tuesday announced action to protect public safety and encourage electric vehicle (EV) auto manufacturers to include AM radio in their cars and trucks.
Despite the clear public safety uses of AM radio, many EV manufacturers have stopped including AM radio in their vehicles because they do not want to spend a few dollars to ensure public safety during emergencies.
AM radio is the backbone behind America’s National Public Warning System, which provides emergency-alert and warning information to the public during major natural disasters, extreme weather conditions, chemical incidents, health emergencies, and other domestic threats and emergencies. During the aftermath of 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy, AM radio provided a crucial lifeline for lifesaving information.
77 radio stations, most of which operate on AM band and cover at least 90% of the U.S. population, are equipped with backup communications equipment and generators that allow them to continue broadcasting information to the public during and after an emergency and can be heard from thousands of miles away.
More than 47 million Americans — about twenty percent of the radio-listening public — listen to AM radio and time spent listening to AM radio has risen over the past five years.
Gottheimer’s steps to ensure all vehicles have AM radio:
- Gottheimer is writing to major EV auto manufacturers — including Tesla — urging them to reconsider their decision to discontinue AM radio in their cars and trucks and to include the public safety tool as a stock feature.
- Ensure that AM radio stations remain safe and intact during national emergencies through federal investment in backup power, hardening antennas and towers, and supporting key communications equipment for AM radio stations. Last year, Gottheimer helped successfully secure a critical federal investment of $56 million for the Next Generation Warning System to improve the capabilities of public broadcasters to send vital emergency and civil defense warnings.
- Gottheimer is calling on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to add AM radio to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards — to require that all automakers, including EV manufacturers, include AM radio as a stock feature in their vehicles. 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.
“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. Instead, Elon Musk and Tesla and other car manufacturers are putting public safety and emergency response at risk,” Gottheimer said. “The importance of AM radio during large-scale emergencies cannot be underestimated, and it has, without a doubt, and without interruption, saved lives and kept our communities informed. When the cell phone runs out, the internet gets cut off, or the television doesn’t work because of no electricity or power to your house, you can still turn on your AM radio.”
“AM stations are the backbone of our country’s emergency alert system — able to quickly alert citizens to impending storms and other emergencies. And when the power is out — televisions go black, wi-fi is down, and before long cell phone batteries are dead. Resilient, powerful, dependable AM radio remains to give New Jersey families vital information. We saw it during Superstorm Sandy, hurricanes in Louisiana, wildfires in California, even recently when a power substation was damaged in North Carolina and their power grid was interrupted for weeks. People were in their cars and trucks getting the information they needed,” said New Jersey Broadcasters Association (NJBA) Executive Director Jordan Walton. “There are plenty of business and economic reasons to preserve AM radio, but public safety — using the publicly-owned airwaves our stations have been lucky enough to borrow for 100 years — is the best reason. The New Jersey Broadcasters Association applauds Representative Gottheimer for his efforts and looks forward to supporting them in every way.”