- Written by webmin
You probably saw the news items: Traffic deaths fall to a 59-year low! Only 33,808 people killed in 2009, compared to 33,186 in 1950*! A mere 1.13 fatalities per 100 million miles traveled! And only 2,217,000 injuries! The numbers, while staggeringly huge, are attributed in part to increased seatbelt use, and anti drunk driving campaigns. So it’s all—relatively—good, right? Sure, right up to the point that Congress decides everything is peachy, and decides to kill the “Toyota Bill,” the neutered auto safety bills in the House and Senate.
Thanks to the safety data, the bills, already losing steam, are taking additional fire: “Right now, this seems to be a solution in search of a problem,” said Matthew Webb in the Wall Street Journal, senior vice president for legal reform policy at the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, a lobby opposed to the bill. On top of that, we’re about to be plunged into another presidential election cycle, which means nothing whatsoever of import will be accomplished in Washington before 2013.
I broadly support HR 5381 in the House and S 3302 in the Senate, although not necessarily for safety reasons: If we’d had the black boxes proposed in those measures, the Toyota unintended acceleration debacle of 2009-2010 would have been avoided. If they really wanted to make the highways safer, there’d be a nationwide, graduated licensing standard; ban on Chinese tires (cheap shot, I know, but check out the testing and you’ll agree); and zero-tolerance drunk driving standard. But that’s a flight of fancy.
* For comparison, there were about twice as many licensed drivers in 2009 (that’s it?), and the fatality rate per mile was about a quarter of the 1950 level.