The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released preliminary data on 2015 traffic fatalities and news was not good. Over the first nine months of 2015, the NHTSA estimates that 26,000 were killed in fatal car and truck accidents. During the first nine months of 2014, fewer than 24,000 people were killed. The increase of 9.3 percent puts 2015 on track to be the deadliest year on American roads since 2008.
In the late 1970s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration unveiled the 5-Star Safety Ratings Program. Over time, the rating has gone from a novel invention to a vital factor in the way many consumers choose a new vehicle. The NHTSA has the power to push automakers to adopt new safety technology by making the technology necessary to achieve a top rating. After a difficult year in 2015, the NHTSA is considering a number of changes to the rating system, as well as other changes designed to help the agency protect and promote highway safety.
In the United States, the rate of fatalities caused by traffic accidents has steadily decreased in recent years. The Fatal Analysis Reporting System is the tool used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to better understand deadly crashes. According to FARS data, 2014 was perhaps the safest year on record for American drivers. The fatality rate of 1.07 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled was the lowest ever recorded. Unfortunately, the preliminary numbers for 2015 are not as promising.
Wearing a seat belt is one of the best things you can do to improve your chances of surviving a car accident. Seat belts save lives. That has been proven time and again in studies going back decades. So why is it that children riding school buses are often exempt from seat belt requirements? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has long held the stance that large school buses should not be required to have seat belts. New Jersey is one of six states that ignored the NHTSA position and made seat belts on school buses mandatory. The NHTSA has now altered its position and will push to make sure that children on all types of school bus have a three-point seat belt to keep them secure.
The scandal concerning Volkswagen and its not so clean diesel technology is a safety issue on a broad scale. The pollution poured into the atmosphere because of Volkswagen's malfeasance is a real threat in many ways. It does not, however, have a direct connection to car crashes that we know of. The issue does raise a number of concerns about auto safety, however. If a company like Volkswagen is willing to engage in cheating on this scale, risking billion of dollars of fines and damage to their brand (not to mention to the environment), it is safe to wonder how far they might go to cover up deadly auto defects.
The Grow America Act is a transportation bill put forth by the U.S. Department of Transportation submitted last month. The bill outlines the department's hopes for improved authority for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to combat defective vehicles. The bill prioritizes the NHTSA's ability to identify defects quickly and inform consumers about potential hazards. It also greatly increased the authority to punish vehicle makers for violations related to vehicle recalls. If the bill passes, it could alleviate the problem of car maker and auto parts makers functionally ignoring the NHTSA in their efforts to pin down safety problems.
Have you ever seen a car wandering out of its lane and wondered just what the driver was doing? It's not hard to find drivers who are having trouble keeping their vehicles in one lane. The culprit may be alcohol, a cell phone call or text, the difficulty getting creamer into his coffee, or a thousand other issues. One of the possible causes is both common and difficult to detect-drowsiness. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving is responsible for between 2.2 and 2.6 percent of fatal crashes. Drowsy driving is also the subject of a new crackdown announced by the NHTSA this week.
Why Is The NHTSA So Ineffective?
Cars were recalled at a record pace in 2014. While the effectiveness and efficiency of the recall system was called into question, it is clear that some mechanism is necessary for getting unsafe vehicles off the road. The newly installed head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Mark Rosekind, has promised changes to the recall system. He is also warning consumers and auto manufacturers that more recalls are to be expected going forward, not less. The NHTSA may have more work to do to combat recall fatigue, where consumers stop paying attention to recalls because they are so frequent.
Defective automobiles and automobile parts are a common problem. The total number of recalls has risen to record levels. The process by which auto defects are identified and eventually recalled has drawn heavy criticism. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration came under fire following what were considered blunders in handling faulty ignition switches in General Motors vehicles and defective airbags manufactured by Takata. New NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind has promised to improve the defect analysis and recall system.