The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is an alliance with the mission to make America’s roads safer by advocating for the adoption of federal and state laws, policies and programs to prevent motor vehicle crashes, deaths, and injuries. The Advocates rate all 50 states and the District of Columbia on what they consider the 16 fundamental traffic safety laws divided into 5 different issue sections. On January 22, they released the “2018 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws.” The report is intended to serve as a guidance tool for legislators hoping to reduce preventable motor vehicle accident deaths and injuries. None of the 50 states or the District of Columbia have adopted all 16 of the laws.
The 16 Fundamental Traffic Laws
- Occupant Protection
- Primary Enforcement Front Seat Belt Law
- Primary Enforcement Rear Seat Belt Law
- All-Rider Motorcycle Helmet Law
- Child Passenger Safety
- Rear Facing Through Age 2 Law
- Booster Seat Law
- Teen Driving
- Minimum Age 16 for Learner’s Permit
- 6-Month Holding Period Provision
- 50 Hours of Supervised Driving Provision
- Nighttime Driving Restriction Provision
- Passenger Restriction Provision
- Prohibited from Obtaining an Unrestricted License until Age 18
- Impaired Driving
- Ignition Interlock Devices for All-Offenders
- Child Endangerment Law
- Open Container Law
- Distracted Driving
- All-Driver Text Messaging Restriction
- Total Cell Phone Restriction for Teen Drivers
A state without a primary enforcement seat belt law covering all passengers or that has repealed an existing all-rider motorcycle helmet law within the previous ten years is not eligible for the highest rating. States must have 11 or more laws including both of the primary enforcement seat belt laws, or 9 or more laws including both primary enforcement seat belt laws and an all-rider helmet law, to achieve the highest rating. The following states have received the highest rating: Rhode Island (best with 13 of the laws), Delaware, Oregon, Washington, California, Washington DC, and Louisiana.
A state is considered dangerously behind in the adoption of Advocates’ optimal laws if they have fewer than 7 laws, without both primary enforcement front and rear seat belt laws. Those states with the worst rating are South Dakota (worst with only 2 of the 16 laws), Wyoming, Arizona, Missouri, Montana, Florida, Nebraska, Virginia, Idaho, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio and Vermont.
More than 37,000 people died in crashes nationwide in 2016. That number is a 5.6% increase from 2015. Pennsylvania, with 7 of the 16 laws, just missed falling into the worst rated category. In 2016, Pennsylvania saw 1,188 motor vehicle fatalities and had a 10 year fatality total of 12,926.