Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 8:29 EDT

2012 Roadmap to State Highway Safety Laws Shows Fiscal Impact of Highway Safety Gaps

January 11, 2012

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety today released the 2012 Roadmap to State Highway Safety Laws, the ninth annual report card grading all 50 states and the District of Columbia on their performance when it comes to adopting 15 basic traffic safety laws. This year the report focuses on the state fiscal impact of highway safety gaps.

If states want to save lives and save money, they should look to the 2012 Roadmap to State Highway Safety Laws for guidance,” said Jacqueline Gillan, president of Advocates. “This report shows that too many states have unacceptable and deadly gaps in their traffic safety laws. Political leadership and action are needed now.”

Among the 15 model laws Advocates evaluated in its 2012 report (available at www.saferoads.org) are seat belt, booster seat and motorcycle helmet measures, in addition to restrictions and requirements for teen drivers, all-driver texting bans and tougher impaired driving laws.

The federal government estimates that motor vehicle crashes cost society $230 billion every year. In 2010, nearly 33,000 people died in crashes throughout the nation and over 2 million more were injured. This is equivalent to a “crash tax” of more than $750 for every person.

“The National Transportation Safety Board has made safety recommendations on every one of the 15 laws included in the Advocates’ report and some of those are also on the NTSB Most Wanted List this year,” said Mark R. Rosekind, Board Member, National Transportation Safety Board.

“Drunk driving costs the United States more than $132 billion annually,” said Jan Withers, president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). “Effective laws like ignition interlock for all convicted drunk drivers will save lives and save money for states. With the technology at hand there is no excuse for states to delay enacting this lifesaving law.”

In this year’s report, states were given one of three ratings based on how many of the 15 optimal laws they have: Green (Good); Yellow (Caution – state needs improvement); and Red (Danger – state falls dangerously behind). Placement in one of the three ratings was based solely on whether or not a state had adopted a law as defined in the report, and not on any evaluation of a state’s highway safety education or enforcement programs.

In 2011, two states improved their rating from Yellow to Green, Maine and Rhode Island. Two states upgraded from Red to Yellow, North Dakota and Pennsylvania. In all, the District of Columbia and 17 states were rated in the highest rated category of Green including New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, North Carolina, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Washington, Delaware, Maine, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Louisiana, and California. The states with the worst rating of Red are South Dakota, Arizona, Mississippi, Virginia, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wyoming. All other states received a Yellow rating indicating caution because there was a need for improvement because of gaps in traffic safety laws.

In 2011, 13 states enacted one or more of Advocates’ recommended highway safety laws for a total of 16 new laws. No state enacted an all-rider motorcycle helmet law although there were 13 attempts to repeal existing laws. The new laws enacted in all state legislatures are:

Primary Enforcement of Seat Belts: Rhode Island

Booster Seats (children ages 4 through 7): California and Georgia

Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) for teen drivers: New Mexico (optimal cell phone restriction), North Carolina (supervised driving), North Dakota (nighttime and optimal cell phone restrictions), and Pennsylvania (passenger restriction)

Impaired Driving: Connecticut (ignition interlock devices for all offenders) and Kansas (ignition interlock devices for all offenders)

All-Driver Text Messaging Restriction: Indiana, Maine, Nevada, New York (upgraded to primary enforcement), North Dakota, and Pennsylvania

The 2012 report found that an additional 348 new laws need to be adopted in all states and D.C. to fully meet Advocates’ 15 legislative recommendations:

  • 18 states still need an optimal primary enforcement seat belt law;
  • 30 states still need an optimal all-rider motorcycle helmet law;
  • 21 states still need an optimal booster seat law;
  • No state meets all the criteria of Advocates’ recommended GDL program (180 laws still needed);
  • 45 states and D.C. are missing one or more critical impaired driving laws (81 laws still needed); and
  • 18 states still need an all-driver text messaging restriction.

“Crash-related deaths and injuries are highly preventable,” said Ileana Arias, Ph.D., Principal Deputy Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Policymakers can play an important role in making the safe choice the easy choice. We can reduce the human and economic toll of motor vehicle-related injuries by supporting prevention strategies that have been shown to save lives.”

Also joining the National Press Club news conference were Joe Polakiewicz and his mother, Nancy, from Greenback, TN. Joe was a 16 year old driver when he was critically injured in a 2010 crash. After spending two months in the hospital, Joe now speaks out about the risks facing new teen drivers and state solutions. “While I am fortunate to be alive today, medical complications will follow me for the rest of my life as a result of driving inexperience. I am here today to urge lawmakers to pass strong teen driving laws and improve safety for everyone on the road.”

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is a coalition of insurance, consumer, health, safety and law enforcement organizations that work together to advance state and federal highway and vehicle safety laws, programs and policies. The complete 2012 Roadmap to State Highway Safety Laws, speaker statements and the news conference webcast can be found at www.saferoads.org.

SOURCE Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

Source: PR Newswire