Distracted Driving: What’s the Government’s Role In Accident Prevention?
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ATLANTA (WAOK) — Saturday’s show focused on the danger’s of distracted driving. We discussed such distractions as passengers, daydreaming, pets, small children, talking on cell phones, television and movie watching, texting and most recently, manufacturer–installed infotainment systems. Missing from the conversation, and maybe one of the most important distractions, DUI, was not even discussed. That will certainly be a topic for an episode to come.
Not only did we examine local and state regulations that influence driver safety, we also discussed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration‘s (NHTSA) regulations that influence automotive design and build. The NHTSA is an agency of the executive branch of the U.S. government and part of the Department of Transportation. According to the agency, its main focus is to: “Save lives, prevent injuries, reduce vehicle-related crashes.”
We also examined the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety‘s (IIHS) role in reducing motor vehicle crashes, injuries and property damage from crashes. The IIHS is a non-profit organization funded by auto insurance companies established in 1959. It works in conjunction with the NHTSA to evaluate vehicle safety and provide research findings to automobile manufacturers for improved vehicle safety.
Callers expressed concern about government intervention in the free market, as well as individual responsibility in governing ourselves. The prevailing tone of the show seemed to lean toward limited government intervention and more personal oversight.
After considering caller comments and my own research, I’m of the opinion that the vast majority of the regulations imposed by the federal government are beneficial to the safety of all who travel on U.S. highways and public streets. Before NHTSA, auto manufacturers were not required to install brake lights or seat belts. Imagine how many accidents and injuries that have been prevented from just those two minor additions since the invention of the automobile. Also, the IIHS acts as a litmus test for the NHTSA’s recommendations, which should satisfy objections to big government and satisfy the role of the free market.