Unbuckled Seat Belts and Excessive Speed Continue to Threaten Driver Safety on the Roads
Despite increased initiatives and efforts to curb traffic-related deaths, recent statistics released by the National Security Council estimate 40,200 people died in traffic related deaths in 2016. The newly released statistics show a 7 percent increase from 2015 and mark the second consecutive year in which traffic-related deaths have increased.
New technologies have enhanced vehicle safety dramatically over the years and stricter traffic laws have been passed nation-wide. However, traffic-related deaths continue to climb. As officials look towards finding a solution, some safety advocates point to long-established dangers on the road including: alcohol, unbuckled seat belts and excessive speeding.
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Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association explains, “it’s still the same things that are killing drivers — belts, booze and speed”. One reason these factors continue to present such a problem on the roads is the difficulty of enforcing all traffic laws. Although new regulations are passed each year by various states, many cities have had to decrease the number of officers patrolling major roads every day. Fewer patrol cars on the road often means fewer traffic violators are ticketed. David Brown, a research associate at the University of Alabama’s Center for Advanced Public Safety, described the dangerous effects of Alabama’s Budgets cuts to the New York Times. Atkins explains, “there are times of the day when we only have one or two troopers on duty in a county, so you can speed, and there’s no one there to deter it”. Consequently, traffic regulations put into place to stop violators are only effective as their enforcement. As more and more traffic violators slide under the radar, dangerous behaviors on the road continue to cause severe accidents.
Unbuckled Seat Belts Play a Role in 50% of All Traffic Related Fatalities
In addition to excessive speed, unbuckled seat belts represent another major contributor to increased traffic deaths. While education campaigns across the country encourage stronger enforcement of wearing seat-belts, only 18 states have laws requiring belted buckles in both the front and back seat of all cars. Without a law requiring seat belts, a driver cannot be pulled over solely for not buckling their belts. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), wearing a properly buckled seat-belt reduces your chance of serious injury during a crash in half. The effectiveness of wearing seat-belts has been proven many times; however, officials worry the lack of coherent laws across state borders may sideline the importance of buckling up. The CDCP recommends states implement and consistently enforce fines for drivers or passengers not wearing their seat-belts.
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