The District of Columbia ranked the best in having the most basic traffic safety laws, while South Dakota ranked the worst, according to the 2014 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws released last week by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
The annual report, in its eleventh year, grades all 50 states and the District of Columbia on 15 basic traffic safety laws. It also focuses on progress during the past 25 years and deadly gaps that put drivers and children in every state at risk. It is produced by Advocates, a coalition of leading consumer, health and safety organizations, and insurance agents and companies that work together to advance state and federal highway and vehicle safety laws, programs and policies.
According to the report, the District of Columbia has 12 laws related to basic traffic safety laws. Following D.C. is Illinois and Oregon with 12 laws each. Six states — Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, Rhode Island and Washington — have 11 laws, and both California and Louisiana have nine laws, rounding out the “Best States” list.
South Dakota topped the “Worst States” list by having only two laws, followed by Mississippi with four. Then four states — Arizona, Iowa, Montana and Nebraska — have five laws, while Alabama, Florida, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Wyoming round out the list with six.
The report gives ratings of green (Good), yellow (Caution) and red (Danger). New in this year’s report is the inclusion of a primary enforcement seat belt law covering passengers in the rear seating positions. A state without a primary enforcement law covering all passengers isn’t eligible for a green rating.
In order to receive a green rating, states must have 11 to 15 laws including both primary enforcement seat belt laws, or nine or more laws including both primary enforcement seat belt laws and an all-rider helmet law. The red rating means states have less than seven laws on the books, including not having both primary enforcement front and rear seat belt laws. They are deemed “dangerously” behind in the adoption of Advocates’ optimal laws.
“We release this report at a critical time as the nation’s motor vehicle fatalities climbed for the first time in 2012 after six consecutive years of decline,” said Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates. “The Roadmap Report provides practical and proven solutions to reduce the highway death and injury toll.”
New state laws enacted in 2013:
Primary Enforcement of Seat Belts: West Virginia (front) and Hawaii (rear); (17 states still need front seat; 33 states need rear seat);
All-Rider Motorcycle Helmet Law: None adopted or repealed; (31 states still need);
Booster Seats (ages 4 through 7): None adopted; (19 states still need);
Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) for teen drivers: Hawaii, Maryland, Utah (cell phone restriction) and Texas (supervised driving requirement); (No state meets all the criteria/174 laws still needed);
Impaired Driving: Maine, Tennessee (ignition interlock devices for all offenders); (39 states and DC are missing laws/46 laws still needed);
All-Driver Text Messaging Restriction: Hawaii, Virginia; (13 states still need).