How the Federal Government Could Make New Vehicles Less Fatal
THE UNITED STATES - The United States used to lead the world in motor vehicle safety. However, the lack of innovation has caused the United States to fall behind other countries in terms of auto safety according to BLOOMBERG.COM. The popularity of sports utility vehicles and the lack of progress in passing improved Federal safety standards for cars and trucks made the roadways more deadly.
The news report states that there were 6,283 fatal pedestrian accidents in 2018, which is 42% more deaths than ten years ago. The number of cyclist deaths increased by 38% during the same period of time. In 2019, there was a small reduction in cyclist and pedestrian deaths. However, the number of pedestrian and cyclist injuries increased. The accident data for 2020 has not been released at the time of this article's publication. However, LocalNews8.com is reporting that pedestrian fatalities are on the rise in 2020.
The issue of improving pedestrian safety has been identified in several cities throughout the United States. Local city officials have implemented safety improvements such as better lighting, adding new signage, creating new protected bike lanes, lowering speed limits, and much more. However, leaders at the federal level have not passed regulations as the number of fatal pedestrian accidents has increased year after year. This is a problem at the federal level because the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), not local municipalities, regulates the design of motor vehicles, which are becoming increasingly heavier and larger, leading to more catastrophic accidents. According to an USDOT's statement, "pedestrians are 2-3 times more likely to suffer a fatality when struck by an SUV or pickup truck than when struck by a car."
Although this USDOT report was released five years ago, the size and weight of vehicles have continued to increase. In November 2020, USDOT published a pedestrian action plan that comprised of dozens of new safety initiatives such as: beginning a pedestrian safety month and creating a pedestrian safety summit. However, some experts were not satisfied with the strong emphasis on education and not regulation.
Safety experts would like to see the forty-year-old New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) updated and to urge auto manufacturers to design motor vehicles that are safer. The NCAP standards have hardly been updated in many years.
A great example of federal law saving lives is the Euro NCAP cyclist detection evaluation criteria introduced in 2018. The program changed safety ratings by adding pedestrian safety. The Euro NCAP program is responsible for 80% of the new vehicles sold in Europe to be equipped with technology to help vehicles avoid striking cyclists. As a result, the number of pedestrian fatalities in Europe has been dropping for years.
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