From 1974 to 1995, the National Maximum Speed Law banned states from setting speed limits above a certain level. From 1974 to 1988, that meant the top speed limit was 55 miles per hour. From 1988 to 1995 it was 65 mph. After 1995, Congress once again allowed states to set their own speed limits. The change had significant implications for the trucking industry and for tire manufacturers which may still not be understood 20 years later.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched a new campaign focusing on seat belt use. The campaign specifically targets parents and children aged 8 to 14. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adult seat belt use tops the list of ways to reduce injuries and fatalities in motor vehicle accidents. Seat belt use is on the rise across the country, though usage varies by state.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does not investigate every motor vehicle crash. There are far too many crashes to review each one. Instead, the NHTSA uses a sampling of crashes to analyze overall trends. More than 20 sites have been designated for this sampling, including Chicago and Los Angeles. Since 1988, the NHTSA has analyzed approximately 4,700 crashes per year, nationwide.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has frequently repeated its goal of eliminating traffic deaths throughout the country. Vision Zero is the term used to describe this admirable goal. Several U.S. cities have adopted traffic safety measures with the stated goal of achieving zero traffic deaths. As a nation, the picture is not so rosy. The numbers for 2013 show just how far away from that goal we are. Nearly 38,000 people died in traffic accidents last year, including more than 4,700 pedestrians.
President Obama is expected to name a new permanent chief for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the next two weeks. Three U.S. senators have called for the President to use the opportunity to make substantial changes to the NHTSA and its practices. They want the NHTSA to reform its safety mission and make changes to the way it approaches safety defects.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has come under fire for its actions concerning the recalls of GM vehicles with defective ignition switches and the vehicles containing Takata air bags. Critics have suggested that the NHTSA has moved too slowly or taken limited action in addressing serious auto defects. NHTSA leaders recently responded with a defense of the work done by the agency in furthering traffic safety.
The compensation expert chosen by General Motors has increased the number of deaths attributed to defective ignition switches to 21. The number is expected to rise higher. The victim's compensation fund has now received 143 claims involving a traffic fatality and a total of 675 claims involving injuries caused by the defective switches. The fund manager, Kenneth Feinberg, plans to provide weekly updates concerning claims tied to the defect.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee released a report concerning the ignition switch defects plaguing General Motors, as well as the response of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to the faulty vehicles. The report leveled criticism as GM for failing to take action to protect consumers. It further criticized the NHTSA, claiming that the administration should have known of the danger posed by the defective ignition switches as early as 2007. The report suggested that the lack of a timely response was due to the NHTSA overlooking evidence or not having the expertise to understand it.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is tasked with reducing motor vehicle accidents and losses that result. Among the responsibilities taken on by the NHTSA is the duty to investigate motor vehicle defects and determine whether a recall should be ordered for a vehicle with a safety concern. The actions surrounding the ignition switch defects in a number of General Motors vehicles have drawn attention to just how effective the NHTSA has been in that role.
When car makers discover a defect that impacts the safety of a vehicle, they are required to notify the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as well as vehicle owners, dealers and distributors. What those groups do with that information varies. Accidents continue to cause injuries and deaths even after safety problems are identified and these parties are informed.