Yet Another Reason to Place Safety First
By Seth Maiman
Our nation’s hospital emergency rooms are already overburdened with COVID-19 patients. This increases the urgency to reduce motor vehicle crashes, fatalities and injuries at a time when the pandemic has led to increased excessive speeding, impaired and distracted driving and reduced seat belt use. That was the message presented by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (AHAS) as it released the 18th annual edition of their Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws in January 2021. AHAS is an alliance of consumer, medical, public health, law enforcement and safety groups and insurance companies and agents.
The Roadmap is the non-profit organization’s annual guide asking state legislatures to adopt a series of 16 recommended highway safety laws involving occupant protection, child passenger safety, graduated driver licensing, impaired driving, and distracted driving. The report rates each state and the District of Columbia based on the number of the sixteen recommended laws that have been adopted.
The safety advocates expressed great concern that COVID-related reduced traffic and higher anxiety has resulted in a higher overall fatality rate in the first half of 2020, according to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
That statistic follows on a year— 2019–in which motor vehicle crashes in the United States accounted for 36,096 deaths (including 1,053 children aged 14 and younger), and 2.74 million injuries. 10,142 fatalities involved a drunk driver, and 3,142 involved a distracted driver (a 10% increase over 2018).
The Report classifies states as Green (Good), Yellow (Caution) or Red (Danger). The “Green” jurisdictions included California, Delaware, D.C., Maine, Louisiana, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington. Twelve states fell into the “Red category—Arizona, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming—although South Dakota won “most improved.”
In addition to advocating for enactment of state safety laws the group also focused on the federal government. “We call on the new Congress and incoming Administration to prioritize technologies such as such as automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and blind spot detection in all new vehicles, ” said Cathy Chase, AHAS president.
During the press conference, the group promoted the advent of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) as a means of saving lives and mitigating crashes. It argued that to fulfill the promise of ADAS, it should be required in all new cars and minimum performance standards for ADAS features should be implemented. Speakers also objected to the manner in which car marketers often bundle ADAS features with non-safety features which raises the cost, and thus the lack of acceptance by consumers.
U.S. Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) participated in the press conference rollout to promote his Safe to Drive Act federal legislation which he described as a bipartisan measure meant to help provide resources to states as they try to encourage people to engage in non-distracted driving.
Maryland Embarks on Historic Path
The Auto Glass Safety Council (AGSC) has endorsed Maryland House Bill 519, first of its kind legislation to develop mandatory state auto glass replacement standards. The association salutes the state for being one of the first to begin the process of codifying existing voluntary industry auto glass replacement safety standards into state law.
The bill, introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates by House Environment and Transportation Chairperson Kumar Barve, directs the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration to “adopt regulations establishing standards and requirements for aftermarket safety glass replacement that meet or exceed the standards and requirements under the Automotive Glass Replacement Safety Standard established by the Auto Glass Safety Council.”
For more information, visit agsc.org
Seth Maiman is the director of government affairs for the National Windshield Repair Division (NWRD) and its parent, the Auto Glass Safety Council.
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