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Friday, May 20, 2011

America's Road Safety: Are more Regulations Needed?

In spite of all the rhetoric from politicians and political pundits calling for less government regulations, it seems that there is one area where Americans agree more laws and regulations are needed. According to the results of a recently released survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Americans seem to agree on the need for more laws and regulations to make America’s roads safer.

Released in conjunction with the “Decade of Action on Road Safety”, an initiative designed to reduce highway deaths and injuries worldwide by the year 2020, the survey shows some surprising results. According to the AAA Foundation press release:

Specific survey results include:

  • 62 percent of Americans agree the U.S. needs more laws to prevent people from doing dangerous things while driving (17 percent disagree)
  • 57 percent of Americans agree their respective state government needs to do more to make their roads safer (11 percent disagree)
  • 86 percent of Americans agree all new drivers should be required to complete a driver education course before they can get a driver’s license (3% disagree)
  • A majority of Americans agree that both auto manufacturers (60 percent) and the federal government (41 percent) need to do more to make cars safer (9 and 21 percent, respectively, disagree)
  • 70 percent of Americans agree that driving safety laws should be enforced more strictly (6 percent disagree)
For global context, separate information provided by the "Make Roads Safe" global campaign shows:
  • 1.3 million people are killed on the world’s roads each year
  • 3. 5 million people globally are injured, many disabled as a result
  • Annual road deaths globally are forecast to rise to 1.9 million by 2020
  • Road deaths are the #1 cause of death for young people worldwide (including in the U.S.)
  • By 2015, road deaths will be the leading health burden for children
This survey comes on the heels of a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released in February that shows that red light cameras save lives. The study compared cities (with and without red light cameras) with populations of more than 200,000 and determined that:
  • 159 lives were saved in the 14 biggest cities with red light cameras
  • An additional 815 lives could have been saved during the same period had red light cameras been installed.
  • 676 people were killed and approximately 113,000 were injured by red light runners in 2009. Two-thirds of the victims were people other than the red light runners.

If you agree that more needs to be done to make the roads safer, contact your local and state representatives and let them know how you feel.

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