Lawmaker Complacency Behind Increase in Fatal Accidents?

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A non-profit group claims state lawmakers have become too complacent because of a decade of declining road fatalities.

The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety grades states on progress in implementing road safety laws on everything from seat belts to drunken and distracted driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently revealed a 7.1 percent increase in highway fatalities from January through September of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011. That is the largest increase since 1975 and a sudden reverse of positive trends in road safety.

The advocates say the 2011 data should serve as a wake-up call for legislators.

Eighteen states do not have laws allowing police officers to stop drivers for not wearing a seat belt. Not a single state has adopted all 15 laws recommended by the agency, and six are considered “dangerously behind.”

Safety experts are urging state lawmakers to start looking at what they can do to protect drivers through tougher laws, but it could remain a difficult sell with anti-government sentiment still strong.

While states have the freedom to make the laws that they feel are appropriate, I hope this new data will encourage legislators to think about what can be done to reduce the number of accidents.

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