National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Backlog in Federal Safety Rules Amid US Car Crash ‘Epidemic'

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NBC 5 News

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.

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