Decline in Highway Fatalities Could Actually Jeopardize Auto Safety Legislation
Last week, we reported about a nationwide decline in highway fatalities that has been traced to enhanced auto safety, greater use of seatbelts and better DUI enforcement.Ironically, it now seems like opponents of the massive auto safety bill that is currently pending in Congress, will use these reduced highway fatality rates to actually scuttle the legislation.
The safety measures were developed in response to the Toyota crisis which broke last year, and involved cars accelerating to high speeds before crashing.In the days after four members of a California family died when their Lexus accelerated to high speeds and crashed, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was found to be severely wanting in its regulatory functions and oversight of auto companies.The federal agency has little power to announce recalls on its own, and must rely on automakers to take proactive steps to protect American consumers.
The new auto safety bill would take care of many of these problems.For one, it would give the NHTSA much greater recall powers, and would hold auto companies to stricter standards.
However, enthusiasm for the bill could soon evaporate if opponents of the auto safety legislation – read, auto companies – get their way.According to the Wall Street Journal, these opponents are likely to use the decline in highway fatality numbers over the past years, to prove that Americans don’t really need such sweeping auto safety reforms.
There’s no doubt that we need auto safety reforms in the country.The current budget for the NHTSA is peanuts compared to the responsibilities that the agency has.Just because, there has been a significant drop in accident deaths, doesn’t mean that we stop working towards keeping more Americans safe.Strengthening the NHTSA is just one way of doing that.We will lose much of the momentum that we have going on the highway safety issue, if we falter when it comes to passage of the bill.
The Atlanta auto accident lawyers at the Katz Law Firm represent injured victims of auto accidents in the metro Atlanta area, and across Georgia.