Gaps and loopholes in state laws are causing road deaths

The alarming two year jump in motor vehicle crash deaths corresponds with a significant decrease in state legislative progress to pass lifesaving safety laws, notes Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

The problem is clear – too many lives are lost, serious injuries sustained and needless costs incurred due to motor vehicle crashes.  And so is the solution. Today, every state has dangerous gaps and loopholes in their traffic safety laws that needlessly make our roads dangerous and put families at risk.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) released the 2017 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws. In the report, titled, “Have We Forgotten What Saves Lives?” raises a pressing question.  And, unfortunately, the answer is “yes”.  This public health crisis demands legislative action and not legislative amnesia about what works and what is needed,” said Jackie Gillan, President of Advocates.

The report recommends and rates 15 optimal laws that are based on decades of real world experience, as well as numerous scientific studies and data analysis. Each state is given a rating in the five categories as well as an overall grade of: Green (Good); Yellow (Caution); and Red (Danger). States earning the top rating of green were: RI, DE, WA, LA, OR and the District of Columbia. Those states that were assigned a red rating are: SD, WY, AZ, MO, MT, FL, IA, NE, VA, ID, MS, NV, NH, ND, OH, PA and VT.

The report reveals that across the nation, 376 state laws are needed:

  • Primary Enforcement of Seat Belts: 16 states need to pass a primary enforcement seat belt law for front seat passengers and 32 states need a primary enforcement seat belt law for rear seat passengers.
  • All-Rider Motorcycle Helmet Law:  31 states need an all-rider motorcycle helmet law.
  • Booster Seats:  39 states and DC need an optimal booster seat law
  • Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) for teen drivers: 213 GDL laws need to be adopted. No state has all seven optimal provisions of a GDL law.
  • Impaired Driving:  35 impaired driving laws are needed in 33 states. In 2016, there were optimal ignition interlock device (IID) laws passed in Maryland, Rhode Island, Vermont and DC as well as a Child Endangerment Law passed in Connecticut.
  • All-Driver Text Messaging Restriction: 9 states need an all-driver texting ban.

In addition to Advocates’ President Jackie Gillan, speakers at today’s release are:

  • Georges Benjamin, MD, Executive Director, American Public Health Association
  • Captain Tom Didone, Montgomery County (Maryland) Police Department
  • Stephen Hargarten, MD, MPH, Professor and Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin
  • Colleen Sheehey-Church, National President, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
  • Joan Claybrook, Advocates’ Consumer Co-Chair and former NHTSA Administrator
  • Bill Vainisi, Advocates’ Insurance Co-Chair and Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Allstate Insurance Company
  • Cathy Chase, Advocates’ Vice President of Governmental Affairs

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