For the past decade, many states across the country have worked hard to implement auto safety laws designed to reduce the number of car accident deaths. On the national level, however, proposed laws to implement a national distracted driving law and increase regulation on auto safety have repeatedly fallen flat. Undeterred, a set of senators announced this week that they would pursue a nationwide transit plan to reduce car accident fatalities 50 percent in 20 years, even as population continues to rise.
The bill, inspired by recent safety fiascoes that some say led to Toyota’s unintended acceleration incidents, would require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to update safety standards and impose harsher fines to dangerous automakers. Fortunately, the United States is already on the right track when it comes to reducing car accident deaths. 2009 boasted the lowest number of car accident deaths since 1950 at 33,000, 18 percent below 2007 figures.
“The United States’ population is projected to increase by 50 percent between now and 2050…That growth will exacerbate the wasteful and inefficient congestion and mobility challenges that plague our national surface transportation system today,” said one of the bill’s sponsors Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. “What’s needed is a sound, national blueprint for a 21st century system that’s safe, efficient, and improves the mobility of people and American-made goods.”
Senate skeptics worry that even though the bill is designed to reduce car accident deaths, a cause everyone can agree on, it will face tough obstacles in Congress. Last year, for example, a national law against distracted driving was stalled due to a set of lawmakers who believed states should be able to make their own distracted driving laws. And toward the end of last year, Senate Democrats were unable to begin official debate on an auto safety overhaul that would have urged the NHTSA to place black box recording devices in all new vehicles.
Reducing car accident deaths is an important cause that will likely earn some sort of government support. But until this auto safety bill passes through Congress, individual drivers and pedestrians should review their state’s driving laws, avoid distracted driving, and always remember to be safe on city streets and highways.
Photo credit: NewRoadsKia.com