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Safety Groups Join Forces, Push for Traffic Safety Reforms

Groups rallying around 16 optimal laws that should be in place across U.S.

by on Jan.22, 2018 President and Founder Janette Fennell pushed for the changes outlined in the report.

Rhode Island and South Dakota are the best and worst states, respectively, for driver safety in the U.S., according to a new report out by Advocates for Highway Safety.

The group’s annual report, the 2018 Roadmap for Highway Safety, gives each state a ranking based on what the safety advocacy group considers 16 fundamental traffic safety laws to ensure roadway safety. Rhode Island employs 13 of the 16 while South Dakota just two.

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“Advocates has spent decades fighting for vehicle safety technology and we too believe driverless cars have the potential to one day make our roads a dramatically safer place,” said Advocates’ President Cathy Chase, during a press conference earlier today.

“Yet, in the meantime, approximately 100 people are killed and 6,500 more are injured in crashes every day, on average, even though we have proven safety solutions highlighted in our Roadmap Report. Further, this comes with a significant economic burden on society.

(Government panel wants to lower the drunk driving threshold. Click Here for the story.)

“Each person in America pays an annual ‘crash tax’ of $784. When loss of life, pain, and decreased quality of life are factored in, society shoulders $836 billion a year. This significant emotional and economic toll must be addressed with urgency and immediacy.”

The push to fortify and expand the safety laws laid out in the roadmap comes because crash statistics are on the rise in the U.S. after more than a decade of declines. More than 37,000 fatalities occurred on America’s roads in 2016, the first year of an increase, and the numbers were basically flat through the first half of 2017, the most recent statistics available.

“A doctor would never needlessly withhold an effective treatment that could save a life or mitigate an injury. Similarly, legislators shouldn’t delay the implementation of these proven cures to the public health crisis occurring every day on our roadways,” said Georges Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association.

For its efforts, Rhode Island received a “green” ranking while South Dakota earned “red.” Other states with a green rating include Delaware, Oregon, Washington, California Louisiana, and the District of Columbia.

(Click Here for detail about how driver assistance tech saves lives.)

States that earn a red rating lag seriously behind when it comes to adopting Advocates’ recommended laws. South Dakota, having adopted just two of 16 safety laws, tops this year’s worst list. Other states with a red rating include Wyoming, Arizona, Missouri, Montana, Florida, Nebraska, Virginia, Idaho, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio and Vermont.

Some of the issues that states need to deal with include:

  • Primary Enforcement of Seat Belts: 16 states lack an optimal primary enforcement seat belt law for front seat passengers, while 31 states need an optimal primary enforcement seat belt law for rear seat passengers;
  • All-Rider Motorcycle Helmet Law: 31 states need an optimal all-rider motorcycle helmet law;
  • Rear Facing Through Age Two: 41 states and D.C. are missing a rear facing through age two child protection law;
  • Booster Seats: 35 states and DC need an optimal booster seat law;
  • Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) for teen drivers: 192 GDL laws need to be adopted to ensure the safety of novice drivers. No state has all six optimal provisions of a GDL law;
  • Impaired Driving: 32 important impaired driving laws covering all-offender ignition interlocks, child endangerment, and open containers are needed;
  • All-Driver Text Messaging Restriction: seven states need an optimal all-driver texting ban; and,
  • GDL Cell Phone Restriction: 19 states and D.C. lack optimal laws restricting cell phone use for teen drivers.

One major change for the 2018 Roadmap, is that states are now graded on whether they have a law that requires child passengers to be restrained in a rear facing safety seat through age two.

(To see more about how traffic fatalities fell slightly in the first half of 2017, Click Here.)

“Children younger than two are at an elevated risk of injuries because of their body structure, and rear-facing car seats provide the best protection in a crash,” said Janette Fennell, founder and president of, said at the release. Fennell was joined at the introduction of this year’s road map by several other advocacy group leaders.

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