A report published by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety revealed California’s traffic safety laws are leaving drivers and pedestrians vulnerable. Drunk driving was identified as a particular concern, though the state was praised for its laws surrounding seat belts and child seat safety.
The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C.) rated the country’s 50 states based on their road safety. They explored which states had adopted the recommended regulations designed to tackle the biggest risks to traffic safety.
One key process that has been created to combat drunk driving is an ignition interlock device: this locks the car ignitions of any convicted drink-drivers, and only provides access once the subject passes a breath-test. This is an effective and practical way to stop anyone getting behind the wheel if they pose a risk to other drivers and pedestrians.
While California doesn’t impose this device on convicted drunk-drivers yet, it will beginning 2019. Those with a history of DUI offenses will be forced to use the device to prove their suitability to drive.
These locking devices have been proven to prevent drivers with a history of DUI offenses from causing further harm. The report indicates this is a step California could introduce into its traffic safety regulations. It also suggests the state should make drunk driving with children a child-endangerment felony.
The report also concluded California needs to be stricter on passenger limits, night-time driving, cell phone use at the wheel and teenage drivers.
Road traffic safety is integral to protecting drivers and pedestrians alike, minimizing the risk of personal injury and property damage. 2016 was deemed the United States deadliest year for drivers since 2007, in a report by the National Safety Council (NSC). California’s vehicle-related death rates exceeded the average, with a rise of 13 percent based on the previous year.
An NSC survey revealed hocking information about drivers’ attitudes. It further details the extent of the danger clear when combined with California’s weaker laws. Ten percent of drivers surveyed said they believed they could drive safely after drinking too much alcohol.
This latter statistic shows how important effective traffic safety laws are. While 10 percent may seem low, it’s too high. Regulations must deter and prevent those with such lax attitudes from getting behind the wheel after judging their own suitability to drive so poorly.
An executive from a Santa Ana Towing Service company commented on California’s need for stronger laws:
“Drivers getting behind the wheel with too much alcohol in their system are not just placing their own lives at risk, but others’ too. The report makes it obvious that California is not doing as much as it should to keep drivers and pedestrians safe.
“We have seen a lot of vehicles damaged by intoxicated drivers – and it’s a terrifying sight.”
California’s impending introduction of interlocking devices for repeat DUI offenders is a major step in improving their traffic safety laws, but further action is needed. It’s a matter of life and death.
Text by Daniel Fialko