In Response to the Tragic Nevada Incident, Federal Investigators Urge Speed Warning Systems in Cars

by Gabriel Martinez
Traffic Safety Regulations

Following a catastrophic car accident in North Las Vegas, Nevada, federal accident investigators are calling for the implementation of systems in new vehicles that alert drivers when they exceed speed limits. They are also advocating for safety regulators to explore options that would enable electronic speed regulation for vehicles operated by habitual traffic violators.

This push for enhanced safety measures was sparked by a January 2022 accident involving a Dodge Challenger, whose driver, with a history of speeding, ran a red light at a high speed of 103 mph (166 km/h), resulting in a collision with a minivan. This tragic incident resulted in the death of the driver and eight others.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), though lacking enforcement power and only capable of issuing recommendations, concluded that the crash was primarily due to the driver’s excessive speed, disregard for a stop sign and red light, and impairment due to cocaine and PCP use. The board also criticized Nevada’s leniency in penalizing the driver, who had five speeding charges in the 17 months preceding the crash, some of which were reduced to parking offenses through plea deals. Additionally, the lack of communication between neighboring courts about the driver’s repeated offenses was highlighted.

Board member Michael Graham emphasized the need for Nevada to improve inter-court communication and hold repeat offenders accountable. The NTSB noted that this issue of courts being unaware of each other’s actions regarding traffic violators is common in other states too. Without widespread distribution of court data, effectively penalizing repeat offenders remains a challenge.

The NTSB is also recommending the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to develop strategies to curb repeat speeding offenses and to establish guidelines for testing speed-limiting devices on vehicles owned by such offenders. States are encouraged to identify and address chronic speeding behaviors.

Furthermore, the NHTSA is being urged to mandate “intelligent speed assistance systems” as standard in all new vehicles. These systems, using cameras and mapping, would not only detect speed limits but also alert drivers when they are exceeded. Discussions are also underway to encourage states to implement active systems that either hinder or completely prevent repeat offenders from speeding.

NTSB Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy expressed dissatisfaction with NHTSA’s inaction on previous suggestions to include speed limit warnings in their new vehicle ratings. She believes incorporating these warnings would motivate manufacturers to install such features, enhancing vehicle safety.

Homendy pointed out the significant role of speeding in the annual U.S. traffic deaths, which account for a third of approximately 43,000 fatalities. She referenced a recent Texas accident, also speed-related, resulting in eight fatalities.

Responding, a NHTSA spokeswoman stated that the agency values NTSB’s input and is actively reviewing public feedback on potential updates to new vehicle ratings, including the addition of speed limiters or warnings.

The North Las Vegas accident occurred on a weekend evening, claiming the lives of the 59-year-old driver with a history of traffic and criminal offenses and his 46-year-old male passenger. The crash, involving a Dodge Challenger and a Toyota Sienna minivan, also resulted in a chain-reaction impacting three other vehicles, involving 15 people in total. Among the deceased were seven family members, aged 5 to 35, from North Las Vegas. A fundraising campaign following the crash raised $300,000 before being closed.

An autopsy revealed that the driver responsible, Gary Dean Robinson, had high levels of cocaine and PCP, exceeding the legal intoxication limit in Nevada. His extensive history of traffic and criminal offenses included speeding and previous convictions for cocaine possession.

Just before the accident, Robinson had pleaded guilty to a speeding charge and was fined $150.

Report contribution by Ken Ritter from Big Big News in Las Vegas.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Traffic Safety Regulations

What prompted federal accident investigators to propose speed warning systems in cars?

The proposal came after a tragic crash in North Las Vegas, Nevada, where a driver with a history of speeding ran a red light at 103 mph, causing a collision that killed nine people, including himself.

What are the key recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)?

The NTSB recommends installing speed warning systems in new vehicles, developing measures to reduce repeat speeding offenses, and implementing guidelines for testing speed-limiting devices on vehicles of habitual traffic violators.

How does the NTSB suggest improving accountability for repeat traffic offenders?

The NTSB suggests that states improve communication between courts to ensure repeat offenders are appropriately penalized and that court data on traffic violations is shared widely.

What role does the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) play in these recommendations?

The NHTSA is urged to develop strategies to curb repeat speeding offenses, establish guidelines for speed-limiting devices, and consider mandating “intelligent speed assistance systems” in new vehicles.

What was the impact of the North Las Vegas crash mentioned in the report?

The crash resulted in the deaths of nine people, including the driver and his passenger, and involved a total of 15 people across multiple vehicles. It highlighted the dangers of speeding and the need for more stringent traffic safety measures.

More about Traffic Safety Regulations

  • NTSB Speed Warning Systems Proposal
  • Nevada Traffic Safety Measures
  • Intelligent Speed Assistance Systems
  • Strategies for Repeat Speeding Offenders
  • North Las Vegas Crash Report
  • NHTSA Vehicle Safety Ratings Update

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Dave_99 November 15, 2023 - 1:42 am

interesting article, but it’s all recommendations, right? when will we see actual change happen

SaraL November 15, 2023 - 4:08 am

not sure how practical this is, isn’t it just more cost for car buyers? and what about older vehicles?

Mike_Johns November 15, 2023 - 5:08 am

really think this is a good move? speeding is a serious issue but are more systems in cars the answer

EmmaBee November 15, 2023 - 7:39 pm

this is a step in the right direction! too many speed-related accidents, we need these measures ASAP.


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