Miles to Go on Highway Safety

The Center for Auto Safety is the nation’s premier independent, member driven, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy on behalf of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

The 50th anniversary of federal auto safety regulation approaches, but there’s not much to celebrate. Signing the regulatory laws on Sept. 9, 1966, President Johnson predicted they would “cure the highway disease.” They haven’t.

The “disease” was a deadly pandemic, and still is. The year the laws were passed, some 50,000 people were killed in crashes on American highways. In 2015, half a century later, the toll was 35,200 – a decrease, but hardly evidence of a cure. Federal regulations and safer cars have certainly lowered the toll, which is good news. But a recent National Safety Council estimate shows deaths rising again in 2016.

The auto-safety standing of the U.S. among developed nations tells a discouraging story. We rank far below other high-income countries in preventing crash deaths. According to a recent analysis by the Centers for Disease Control, this country had 10.3 crash deaths per 100,000 people in 2013, nearly twice the rate of the next-highest countries – Canada (5.4) and New Zealand (5.6).

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