The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is accusing the federal government of getting sidetracked by text messaging and runaway Toyotas instead of tackling the tough work of forcing the auto industry to incorporate better safety technology into vehicles, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Our Chicago accident attorneys have reported exhaustively, both here and on our sister site Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, regarding the efforts by the government to combat text messaging and cell phone use by drivers.
The Toyota recall issues was well-documented, if not drastically overplayed, throughout the spring and summer months.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration blames 6,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries a year on distracted driving. However, about 34,000 deaths — or 100 deaths a day — occur on the nation’s roads. Traffic crashes remain the number one cause of accidental death in the United States.
“There’s nothing rational about the way we set highway safety priorities,” said Institute President Adrian Lund in the organization’s August Status Report. the IIHS is the safety and advocacy arm of the insurance industry. “You’d think from the media coverage, congressional hearings, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s focus in recent months that separating drivers from their phones would all but solve the public-health problem of crash deaths and injuries — It won’t.”
Naturally, the U.S. Department of Transportation took exception to the Institute’s position in a response published in the Wall Street Journal.
“Safety is the Department of Transportation’s number one priority, which is why we are aggressively and urgently tackling a number of risks to drivers’ safety,” the DOT’s statement said. “We are going to continue taking drunk drivers off the road, getting people to put down their phones and other distractions, making sure cars and trucks are safe to drive, and doing whatever else is necessary to keep Americans safe behind the wheel.”
Whether the government has overemphasized Toyota defects and the dangers of text messaging is debatable. However, the NHTSA has yet to release traffic accident statistics from last year, which usually occurs by mid-summer. The NHTSA is the arm that has taken a lead role in both issues.
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