As traffic fatalities spike in the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal agency in charge of auto safety is struggling with a growing backlog of safety rules ordered by Congress that are years overdue and estimated to save thousands of lives.
A governors’ highway safety group says the United States faces a “car crash epidemic” at the same time that safety rules languish.
An Associated Press review of rule-making by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration under the last three presidents found at least 13 auto safety rules past due, including a rear seat belt reminder requirement passed by Congress in 2012 that was to be implemented by 2015.
David and Wendy Mills wonder whether their 16-year-old daughter would be alive today if the seat belt warning rule had been in place.
Kailee Mills was riding in the back seat of a car to a Halloween party in 2017 just a mile from her house in Spring, Texas, when she unfastened her seat belt to slide next to a friend and take a selfie. Moments later, the driver veered off the road and the car flipped, ejecting her.
She died instantly. Her three friends who remained buckled walked away with minor scrapes.