Report of State Highway Safety Laws: Second Year of Unacceptable Increases in US Crash Deaths

Report of State Highway Safety Laws: Second Year of Unacceptable Increases in US Crash Deaths

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) have released the 2017 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws. The 14th annual report rates all 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC) on adoption of 15 basic traffic safety laws. This “report card” exposes deadly gaps in these essential laws and should serve as both a wake-up call and call to action for state legislatures.

This report is released at a critical time in traffic safety nationwide. Recent data reveal sharp increases in motor vehicle crash fatalities in 2015 with the upward trend continuing in 2016. More than 35,000 people were killed in 2015 and over 2.4 million injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This represents a 7.2% increase in fatalities from the previous year and the largest percentage uptick in nearly 50 years. Further, preliminary data for the first nine months of 2016 show an 8% increase over the same time period in 2015.

This alarming two year jump in motor vehicle crash deaths also corresponds with a significant decrease in state legislative progress to pass lifesaving safety laws. In 2016, only four states and DC passed an optimal law as defined by this Report. This sets a new record low for state legislative advances.

“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. The Report’s title, “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.

(Source: Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety)