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Has NHTSA Grown Lax On Traffic Safety?

On Behalf of | Jan 28, 2021 | motor vehicle accidents

Pulling out of your driveway onto Ohio roads places you in danger. Real risks of injury or death overshadow every trip made by motor vehicle. Traffic deaths have climbed in the years since national roadway fatalities dipped to a low of 32,479 in 2011. As a result, safety advocates have strongly criticized the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is the federal agency tasked with addressing the issue. Their complaints highlight apparent inaction, foot dragging, and lack of funding.

Slow down in safety enforcement

Opinions vary according to people’s perspectives, but hard data paints a picture of reduced enforcement at the NHTSA. Part of the agency’s mission includes confronting automakers and parts manufacturers over defects that endanger motorists. Since 2017, the agency has pursued only seven cases against manufacturers for penalties totaling $231,270,000. During the eight years prior to 2017, NHTSA collected penalties of $685,079,550 for 49 complaints.

Underfunded and understaffed

A former NHTSA deputy administrator complained about a constant lack of resources for the agency. Another former official at the agency said that a small staff left safety enforcement at a disadvantage against large corporations with large staffs of lawyers and engineers.

In this environment, the agency has missed Congressional deadlines to update safety standards. Instead, the NHTSA promotes voluntary agreements with automakers and safety recommendations over enforceable regulations.

Victims have personal injury law

Regardless of the strength or weakness of traffic safety regulations, victims of negligent drivers and defective auto parts have a legal right to seek financial damages. These cases start as personal injury insurance claims in which large companies could have an advantage over individual injury victims. Instead of dealing with the situation on your own, you may want to obtain legal support during an accident investigation, settlement negotiation, or trial.

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