New Poll Finds Overwhelming Majorities Favor Government Regulation for Health and Safety

A new Harris poll conducted for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety reveals that nine out of ten Americans believe that governmental regulation to protect health and safety is important. The finding accords with similar findings since 1996. According to the study's authors, "the weight of public opinion is overwhelmingly on the side of having federal responsibility for . . . safety and public health. The intensity of support is also high." Of those who rated the government's role as important, almost 64% (or 58% of all respondents) considered the government's role as very important. "Over the years, roughly six in 10 Americans have viewed government regulatory responsibility over highway and auto safety and other matters affecting the health and safety of the people as not just important, but 'very important,' essentially indicating that they view it as an indispensable necessity," the report continued. More specifically, the poll found widespread support of governmental regulation to make auto safety standards tougher and more uniform. Among the findings:
  • Making all vehicles, including sport utility vehicles, more stable and less prone to roll over is favored by 84% of the American public, including 8 out of 10 SUV owners.
  • An overwhelming majority -- 9 out of 10 surveyed -- wants the government to set auto safety standards.
  • More than 90% of adults surveyed said they would be willing to spend $200 to $300 more for safety improvements in new cars.
  • Another majority, 83%, wants the government to "require a major upgrading of roof safety standards" to prevent the roof of a car from crushing inward during a rollover.
These findings come at a critical time, as the Senate and House are conferring on the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act (SAFETEA), a transportation bill for which the Senate version, but not the House version, would require safety improvements addressing many of the concerns identified by the poll.
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