There are many different types of laws and regulations that control motor vehicle safety. There are laws that are created at every level of government in the United States starting with the federal government all the way down to municipal or city regulations. A licensed driver must be aware of and abide by all of these different laws in order to ensure the safety of not just other drivers on the road but also bike riders and pedestrians that are walking along side of the roads.
The federal government has enacted several motor vehicle laws and standards to ensure the safety and health of the population. The first piece of national legislation was signed in 1966 and was called the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. The most influential part of this bill was the creation of National Highway Safety Bureau which is now known as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The sole purpose and responsibility of this bureaucratic entity was to enact laws to protect the population and to prevent deaths and minimize injuries from motor vehicle accidents and malfunctions.
The most influential regulation that the NHTSA created was in 1968 when it required automobile workers to install seat belts for all cars. Since then the NHTSA has created a set of conventions that are required with every new vehicle that is manufactured for use in the United States, these are called the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and there are over a hundred different standards.
Although the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act is a type of legislative law, the regulations created by the NHTSA are administrative laws because they were created by an administrative agency. All of the fifty states in the U. S. including the state of Nevada have quite a few different laws that regulate motor vehicle safety. However these laws affect the drivers of the vehicles rather than the manufacturers.
Some examples of these laws include the Move Over law which necessitates that if you are in an accident or your car breaks down you must make every effort to move your vehicle to the side of the road not just to keep the flow of traffic moving but to ensure the safety of the passengers in the affected vehicles. Other laws include bicycle laws, child safety seats and booster seats, and school bus regulations.
For example, when a school bus pulls over to release at least one child, cars must come to a complete stop until they have reached the safety of the sidewalk; this includes cars on the other side of the road headed in the opposite irection. One of the newest laws that has been adopted in just about every state is the probation of the use of cell phones while driving your car, this means texting or talking except with the use of a hands free headset or Bluetooth. This is an example of how social norms and advancements in technology have necessitated changes in the laws. At the local state level in North Las Vegas, Nevada; there are many ordinances that dictate how drivers must behave while on the streets of the city.
These include posted speed limits which state how fast a car can go while maintaining safety of the passengers inside, in other vehicles, and any pedestrians or bicycle riders in the vicinity. Another law that was recently enacted protects pedestrians crossing the street, it states that if a pedestrian enters a cross walk, cars traveling in both directions must come to a complete stop and may not proceed until the pedestrian has safely reached the other side of the street and has both feet on the sidewalk.
All these laws combined contribute to the health and welfare of the public. Public health isn’t just about medically treating the masses but it is also about keeping the public safe and ensuring there are no deaths or injuries while operating or riding in a vehicle, riding a bicycle, or walking on the street. The government at all levels has an obligation of at least informing the public about how to stay safe when it comes to motor vehicles and to make sure that all proper precautions are taken when operating a motor vehicle.
The decrease in motor vehicle fatalities and injuries is proof that these laws and regulations work and will continue to work as long as government keeps them in place. Figure 4-13 in Essentials of Public Health shows that despite the increase of vehicles miles traveled there has been a steady decrease in the amount of deaths cause by motor vehicle accidents. It is in the best interest of the public to keep these laws and to create new ones as times and situations change.