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State and Local Government Law

2021

Federalism

Cornell University Law School

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Rules Of The Road: The Struggle For Safety And The Unmet Promise Of Federalism, Sara C. Bronin Jul 2021

Rules Of The Road: The Struggle For Safety And The Unmet Promise Of Federalism, Sara C. Bronin

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

American streets have become increasingly dangerous. 2020 saw the highest year-over-year increase in roadway death rates in 96 years, and the last year for which we have data on non-drivers, 2018, was the was the deadliest year for pedestrians and cyclists in three decades. Though this resurgence of road violence has many complex causes, what makes American roads uniquely deadly are laws that lock in two interrelated design problems: unfriendly streets and unsafe vehicles.

Design standards articulate how streets and vehicles look and function. As they have been enshrined in law, they favor drivers and their passengers over any other …