Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I was able to watch a live-stream press conference yesterday from the comfort of my home. As a result, I was enlightened about the STATE OF SAFETY in our country. We are acting like the individually-united states are just that–individual. Acting like they need to have control over decisions about what SAFETY measures should be required in their individual states.
In disregard of the abundantly-available wonders of modern safety technology, what we are really doing is increasing the likelihood that INDIVIDUALS in their states will experience DEATH BY MOTOR VEHICLE!
Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety held a press conference yesterday at which they released their 13th annual Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws–outlining the 319 proven safety laws which many states have not adopted, including such things as seat belt usage, motorcycle helmet laws, impaired driving, child passenger safety, teen graduated licensing laws, and distracted driving.
I was alerted to the upcoming event by Lou Lombardo of Care for Crash Victims. He sent out this notice:
Report to be released tomorrow from Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety titled “Missing”.
Missing refers to State Safety Laws missing in each State.
Buried in the State summaries are statistics on the number of people who died of crash injuries in each State for the past 10 years. Add them up and we find that 362,532 Americans are “missing” i.e., lost their lives due to vehicle violence over the 10 year period.
Using NHTSA figures of estimated injuries nearly 1.5 million additional people suffered serious injuries in America over the 10 year period. These people are also “missing” – i.e., not counted.
Using DOT values of $9 million in comprehensive costs per fatality, America “missing” losses would be valued by DOT to be about $3 trillion.
Why would we think that proven safety measures should be left up to the individual states to determine whether or not to require their use? Is this a matter of personal freedom? Do we think that we are trampling on citizens’ individual rights? Do we think that we need to give them CHOICE in this matter?
Do we need to let individuals become informed and make their own decisions on what would or would not be a good idea for them? Would their choice impact only them and them alone? Is that really what we think and how we choose to govern our country?
Is it the duty of the federal government to protect its citizens from crash deaths & serious injuries? I happen to think so: http://annaleahmary.com/2016/01/is-it-the-duty-of-the-federal-government-to-protect-its-citizens-from-crash-deaths-serious-injuries/.
And if that is, in fact, the case, then why not establish national safety standards and require them to be adopted by states? I know, from the aftermath of our crash, that there are already certain federal highway safety standards which states are required to adopt as is.
For an example of this, see FMCSA’s COMPATIBILITY OF STATE LAWS AND REGULATIONS AFFECTING INTERSTATE MOTOR CARRIER OPERATIONS https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/title49/part/355.
Why not do the same for all of those 319 proven SAFETY LAWS alluded to by Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety? Mandate that all states adopt them as well. Why have each state struggle to re-invent the wheel and wade through all of the research (or try to do the research themselves) when we could gather all of the resources needed to design SAFETY Laws at the national level?
See how we are doing that kind of collaborative effort to obtain the best possible truck underride protection:
To not do so is to cause untold delays in bringing about SAFER travel on our roads. In my estimation, to continue to travel down this road of Individual State Safety Laws, is to knowingly sentence to DEATH BY MOTOR VEHICLE countless members of our families and communities today and in all the days to come. That is plain and simple criminal negligence.
Reckless Driving & Criminal Injustice: One More Grief For Victims to Bear
And, on top of what I have already said, I would like to add that once safety measures are mandated, then I think that there should be criminal penalties for not adhering to those laws. There should be fines for violation of traffic safety laws. And, if breaking those laws leads to death or serious injury, then the lawbreaker should be held accountable, charged with RECKLESS criminal action, and receive appropriate consequences.
I am no legal expert and cannot begin to delineate exactly how it should be handled. But when I looked up the word reckless, I found reference to the term reckless endangerment , which has been described like this:
In Tennessee, a person may be convicted of the crime of Reckless Endangerment if the state prosecutor proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the person:
- Recklessly engaged in conduct;
- That placed or may have placed a person;
- In imminent danger of death;
- Or serious bodily injury.
The term reckless, as it is used here, means that a person was aware of, but consciously disregarded, a substantial and unjustifiable risk that his conduct would place another person in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury.
Just yesterday, I saw an example of car owners choosing to not use a safety measure–lane departure warning devices, which apparently can be quite annoying (a glitch which could quite probably be remedied). If use of this safety technology becomes mandated, then those who choose to disregard the law should be charged with any resulting DEATH BY MOTOR VEHICLE.
And, while we are at it, let’s inform and train our citizens from an early age that a vehicle is not a toy and that their driving behavior impacts those around them big time: https://www.facebook.com/EndDistractedDrving/photos/a.316429631751037.73716.141583792568956/994168863977107/?type=3&fref=nf. We should take a clue from a Jimmy Stewart-narrated 1954 driver safety film:
This, of course, brings up the need to have automakers provide safety devices as standard not optional equipment–at an affordable price for all. And for older vehicles, offer discounts for retrofitting them where possible:
Why am I being so vocal about this issue? Because I do not want thousands upon thousands of family members to receive death certificates in the mail for loved ones whose deaths could have been prevented by this country acting in a timely and morally responsible manner.
This issue of mandating national traffic safety standards to be adopted by states adds one more practical application to my recommendations for a National Vision Zero Goal and Vision Zero Executive Order.
Check out the details of our Vision Zero Petitions here: http://annaleahmary.com/2016/01/adopt-a-national-vision-zero-goal-save-lives-not-dollars/
Maybe I need to get going and launch a new petition calling for federal safety laws to be adopted by all states–including proven means for moving Towards Zero Crash Deaths & Serious Injuries and in a timely manner. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/title49/section/350.107 & http://www.statesman.com/news/news/local/after-deadly-traffic-year-austin-to-join-national-/nqCgq/
To do so would be honoring the memory of not only our daughters, AnnaLeah (forever 17) and Mary (13) who died due to a potentially-preventable truck underride crash, but also my ancestor, Resolved Waldron, who came to New Amsterdam in 1654, established a home on Broadway near Wall Street http://tinyurl.com/hlpu2mx, and “His conscientious exactness in performing his duties [as deputy sheriff] made him a favorite with Governor Stuyvesant.” http://www.eroots.net/docs/Waldron%20public.pdf May we always be a nation diligent to protect our citizens.