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Automotive Laws

Updated on February 2, 2015

There’s hardly been an invention which has transformed the global landscape as automobiles have. It’s used by billions of people and is even regarded as one of the most valuable personal properties of the modern era. However, due to its inherent traits of causing pollution and being potentially capable of causing major personal injuries and property damage, a plethora of automotive laws have been implemented throughout the world, in the interest of the society.

In fact, for each and every phase in an automotive’s life-cycle, there are bodies of laws which help standardize the automobiles and make it safer too. The four major phases in an automotive are namely its manufacture, sale, operation and its disposal phase. The manufacturing process has been subjected to stricter automotive laws in the twentieth century. Basically, these laws were carried out for improving the safety, the auto emissions and fuel consumption. Subsequently, more laws were passed to ensure a safe finished automotive product.

The safety regulations included accident avoidance standards on automotive features like brakes, tires, windshields, lights, and transmission controls. The safety regulations were also extended to the occupant-protection requirements such as seat belts, cushioned instrument panels, energy-absorbing bumpers and steering wheels, head restraints and stronger side doors. In the US alone, the impact of theses laws were evident as the annual vehicle death rate decreased 35.2 percent between 1968 and 1979.

The seat belt is considered as the foremost safety standard for motorists. According to a survey, seat belts can drastically reduce front-seat injuries in a motor accident (Serious injuries by 64 percent and of fatalities by 32 percent). From the 1990’s, some countries including the US made it mandatory for the manufacturers to install either air-bags or automatic seat belts to further protect the front seat occupants from fatal injuries.

The Quintessential Seat-Belt

Between 1945 and 1995, millions of people have died in auto accidents and about half a billion injured in automotive accidents. Presently, automotive manufacturers can be and have been sued for an improperly made automobile, especially if the manufacturer doesn't warn the buyer of the automobile’s intrinsic tendencies (For example, being sued for not warning drivers of a van’s tendency to roll over under certain conditions).

Motor Vehicle Accident - Charts

Some of the world’s biggest cities have been experiencing the problem with smog. This can be attributed to automotive emissions. A number of automobiles in the developing nations still emit harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen. Besides causing respiratory problems like asthma and bronchitis in humans, it also damages plants, lowers visibility, reduces crop yields and causes acid rain. European Emission Standards (Euro 1, Euro 2, Euro 3 and Euro 4) is an Exhaust emission standard which has succeeded in curtailing air pollution levels to a great degree in Europe as well as some Asian countries.

A Rundown of Some Bizarre Auto Laws

When shopping for a car, buyers are affected by the advertisements and various promotional tools deployed by the manufacturers and automotive dealers. The content of these advertisements are regulated by the government. As such, no misleading ads or false assurances are allowed. In some countries, an advertisement must specify the number of advertised vehicles available for sale, the price, the dealers, the factory-installed options and warranty terms. It’s also imperative in most nations to have an auto insurance so as to provide the car owners with compensation in case of an accident or theft.

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Negligent driving is yet another aspect of the automotive on which the law come down with a heavy hand. Negligence which leads to death of pedestrians may charge a driver with manslaughter. There are generally two primary automotive crimes which have created a public outcry in recent times: drive-by-shootings and car-jacking. Since these crimes are random in nature and innocent pedestrians or passengers fall victims, severe penalties for the perpetrators have been devised. The other common crimes include car theft and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Data collected over the years have recorded twenty five thousand deaths caused by drunk driving in the US alone. Some other offences include driving without a license, parking violations and speeding violations.

Every automobile owner is supposed to have two important documents with them all the time: The Certificate of Ownership and a Certificate of Registration. Vehicle registration gets the owners their vehicles’ license plate number. The owner's name and the type of vehicle are also registered with the state or central government office. It’s compulsory for the driver to display the license plates clearly on the car and have the certificate of registration and license at hand when driving.

A Montage of Licence Plates of US States

The recycling and disposal stage is the last stage of the automobile which is monitored by certain legal regulations and standards as well. Around 10 million cars are disposed each year in the US. The salvage yards are the ones which come into play initially. The salvage yards needs to have the title to an auto before the vehicle can be destroyed, as this prevents the destruction of cars used in crimes. Along with that, salvage yards needs a license from the pollution control agencies for hazardous waste disposal. The remains of the salvaged automobile are then sold to a shredder, whose primary job is separating the metals from the non-metal parts. About 25 percent of automotive parts are impossible to recycle. These are hence disposed of in a landfill. Once again, certain legal regulations ensure that these materials meet the standards for disposal of hazardous waste.

Such encompassing are the automotive laws in the present era. They’re indispensable since they safeguard the interests of the environment and the human society at large.


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