Most Wanted: Transportation Safety Improvements

With automobile accidents serving as the leading cause of death in the United States, a constant question on the minds of citizens, law enforcement and the government is how to make vehicle transportation safer.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a list of “Most Wanted Transportation Safety Improvements” since 1993. The list is full of recommendations for improvements to laws that could make driving safer for drivers. According to the NTSB, these recommendations have resulted in the “most significant alteration of young driver practice in 50 years.”

Distracted driving, including the use of cell phones, and drunk driving are two leading causes of traffic accidents in the United States. The NTSB has consistently recommended that the state and federal governments enact laws that would prohibit the use of cell phones for drivers, and enforce drunk driving laws.

On the list of Most Wanted Transportation Improvements for 2010, include recommendations that states:

  • Improve child occupant protection, enacting state laws requiring booster seats for young children up to age 8.
  • Enact primary seat belt enforcement laws, elimination the restriction that requires law enforcement to observe another offense by drivers in order to pull them over for not wearing seat belts.
  • Eliminate distractions for young drivers by prohibiting the use of cell phones and other wireless communication devices, restricting the number of teenage passengers with a young driver and enacting graduated driver licensing legislation that would require three stages of increased driving privileges for young drivers.
  • Eliminate drinking and driving by repeating offenders through frequent sobriety checkpoints, zero blood alcohol requirement for repeat offenders and the elimination of plea-bargaining and diversion programs for drunk driving.
  • Improvement of motorcycle safety by requiring all drivers and passengers on a motorcycle wear a helmet.

Currently, Texas laws do comply with several of these recommendations. As stated in last week’s article regarding distracted driving, Texas laws prohibit the use of hand-held cell phone devices in active school zones and for young drivers during their first 12 months of driving, and for bus drivers when passengers under 17 are present.  Many states, such as California, go above the NTSB’s recommended laws by prohibiting the use of cell phones and hand-held devices by all drivers.

With Texas leading the nation in drunk driving deaths, state laws regarding drunk driving, especially by repeat offenders are lacking. In 2010, Texas Senator Jane Nelson filed a bill that would permanently revoke the driver’s license of anyone convicted of driving while intoxicated more than once. More than 78,000 Texans have more than three DWI convictions. Senator Nelson’s bill has not yet been passed. (Read more about drunk driving in Texas in this article.)

In 2009, 1,235 Texans died in accidents caused by drunk driving. Between 2001 and 2007, more than 16,000 people were killed in accidents caused by distracted driving, the use of cell phones as the leading cause of distracted driving. Should state governments and the federal government enact laws in accordance with the NTSP recommendation, deaths related to drunk driving and distracted driving would no doubt be reduced.

If you have been seriously injured or have lost a family member in an accident caused by distracted driving or drunk driving, contact The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare to speak with a Dallas personal injury attorney.

For more information on the National Transpotration Safety Board’s Most Wanted Transportation Safety Improvements, click here.