Despite the fact that total miles driven for individuals went down in 2020, the number of automobile fatalities in the United States reached an all-time high. According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 38,680 people died in traffic crashes in 2020 alone, where over half of these fatalities involved unbelted occupants. Statistically, over 800 people die annually from failure to buckle up in the backseat. Furthermore, an Associated Press review of NHTSA’s rule-making found at least thirteen rules that were past due for implementation by Congress.
David and Wendy Mills Speak Out
In 2012, Congress passed a rear seatbelt rule to be implemented by 2015, but has yet to do so. In 2017, David and Wendy tragically lost their 16-year-old daughter, Kailee, when she was on her way to a Halloween party. Kailee slid over to take a quick selfie with a friend when the driver lost control of the vehicle. The car flipped, ejecting Kailee from the car and killing her instantly.
Currently set to start moving through the regulatory process come January, the rear seat belt rule could still be years away. The agency has continuously missed deadlines, including those promised in federal court.
Kailee’s Angels, a Houston foundation aimed to promote seatbelt safety, began with David Mills and keeps an active list of teenagers who have passed after failing to buckle up. Kailee’s Angels foundation reminds others to buckle up where rules and regulations fall short.
The NHTSA has also procrastinated several other auto safety regulations and rules that would improve conditions for motorists. Some of which include regulations like:
- Side-impact standards for child car seats.
- Self-adjusting “smart” car headlights.
- Breathalyzer devices which render a vehicle disabled are also long overdue.
- Anti-ejection protection measures for larger buses.
- Medical evaluations of sleep apnea for commercial truck drivers.
Review of the NHTSA’s rulemaking under the last three presidents has shown major auto safety rules substantially past due. But, why?
Well, oftentimes powerful industries delay regulations by opposing them to be expensive, outdated, or restrictive. Bureaucracy can also cause these rules to take a back seat to other issues deemed priority.
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