America's public safety infrastructure is at risk if automakers remove AM radio from vehicles.
AM radio serves a vital role in our nation's emergency infrastructure as the backbone of the Emergency Alert System. When the power goes out and cell networks are down, the car radio is often the only way for people to get information, sometimes for days at a time.
Despite this, certain automakers have removed AM radio as a feature on electric vehicles and signaled that they may remove AM radio from new models of internal combustion engine vehicles in the future.2
"Experts at [FEMA]...have been clear: eliminating the AM radio will put public safety at risk."3
On May 17, 2023, Sens. Ed Markey (MA), Ted Cruz (TX), Tammy Baldwin (WI), Deb Fischer (NE), Ben Ray Luján (NM) and J.D. Vance (OH) and Reps. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Tom Kean, Jr. (NJ-7), Rob Menendez (NJ-8), Bruce Westerman (AR-4) and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-3) introduced the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation would require the Transportation Secretary to issue a rule requiring vehicles manufactured in or imported into the U.S. to have devices installed that provide access to AM radio. It would also, among other things, ensure that AM is conspicuous to the driver in the dash and require motor vehicles that do not include AM radio (in the period between enactment and prior to the Transportation Secretary issuing the new rule) to be labeled as such to consumers in a clear and conspicuous manner.
The bottom line:
Congress should enact the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act to keep AM radio as a standard feature in all vehicles. It is vital to public safety and to the tens of millions of Americans who depend on AM radio.
1 Nielsen; Westwood One, https://bit.ly/41LAP83
2 Detroit Free Press, https://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/2023/04/01/ford-am-radio-commercial/70062845007/
3 Pete Gaynor, former administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in a recent op-ed.