The traffic safety culture in America focuses basically on vehicles that perform as expected and drivers whose behavior needs to obey traffic laws and use common sense.
To foster true traffic safety culture change, the social climate needs to address all road users, including passengers, according to my colleague, Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
And that includes children.
Traffic crashes are the number one killer of children under 12 years of age – a chilling statistic that doesn’t get enough attention.
And more than two-thirds of the children who die in car crashes die while riding with drivers who have consumed alcohol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The daily death toll is two children die in car crashes every day and another 325 are injured.
What parent, after having a few drinks, wants to be in a car wreck that kills their child? Why would any right-thinking person drink and get behind the wheel with their kids in the vehicle?
The answer is the most difficult conundrum in traffic safety.
Those parents, just like drivers who text while driving or speed, know it is dangerous, against the law, yet they tend to believe the odds are in their favor.
Knowing what not to do is one thing. Not doing it is another.
Our society doesn’t place enough punitive pressure on those who gamble with the lives of others. Speeders evade getting points on their license or higher insurance premiums due to lenient laws and judges.
Roughly 75 percent of parents don’t know how to properly install the safety seat their child rides or to keep their child riding in the back seat until they are 13 years old.
And unless someone dies in an accident, texting while driving is just a financial fine.
Passing tougher laws can only happen when the nation’s traffic safety culture changes. And that won’t happen until the public begins to care more about the consequences to children.