Many States Have a Long Way to Go on Road Safety

Throughout the United States, motor vehicle accidents result in serious injuries, and even fatalities, on a daily basis. And over the past several years, instances of traffic accidents and motor vehicle deaths have been steadily increasing for years. In fact, in 2015 alone, motor vehicle deaths increased by 8%—signifying the most substantial increase in the past five decades.

While there are many factors potentially contributing to these increases in accidents, injuries, and fatalities, a general lack of road safety laws by individual states may be the primary source of blame. Specifically, a 2017 study performed by Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety ranked a list of the best and worst states in terms of their adoption of road safety laws, seatbelt enforcement laws, helmet laws (for motorcyclists), and more. The findings revealed that numerous states still have a long way to go when it comes to their laws and regulations on road safety.

More About the Study

The study took into consideration a few different criteria in its rankings. Generally, the greater number of highway and road safety laws a state had in place, the higher it would rank. The exception to this was any state that did not have seat belt laws in place covering all passengers in both front and rear seating positions; states without these laws were not eligible for a "best state" ranking. The same applied to states that had repealed any existing motorcycle helmet laws.

Best-Ranked States

Rhode Island was by far the best-ranked state for motor vehicle safety laws, with a total tally of 13 in place. Some other top-ranked states include:

  • Delaware, Oregon, and Washington (11 laws)
  • California and D.C. (10 laws)
  • Louisiana (9 laws)

Still, even some of the best-ranked states lacked laws regarding child booster seats, open containers, and passenger restrictions for drivers under the age of 18.

Worst-Ranked States

All of the worst-ranked states on the list have fewer than seven road safety laws in place, and many of these states are far behind in their adoption of basic road safety regulations regarding motorcycle helmets and seat belt requirements.

South Dakota was the worst-ranked state, having just two of the recommended safety regulations in place. Arizona also ranked very low on the list, with just four of these laws currently enacted. Some of the notable laws that Arizona has failed to adopt include:

  • seat belt laws for front and rear passengers
  • motorcycle helmet laws
  • booster seat laws
  • minimum age (16) laws for learner's permits
  • text messaging and cell phone use restrictions.

What This Means for Drivers

All states across the country could stand to improve their adoption of important road safety laws. Until this is done, drivers and passengers will continue to be put at risk each time they enter a vehicle. If individual states took their responsibilities of protecting motorists more seriously, more of these vital laws would be adopted, enacted, and enforced. As a result, these states may begin to see a reduction in distracted driving accidents and many other types of motor vehicle accidents that often lead to injury and even death. Now is the time for individuals to reach out to their local and state representatives to demand adoption of more laws to protect drivers and passengers; otherwise, it is likely that motor vehicle accidents and fatality rates will continue to rise with each passing year.

From the Author: motor vehicle accidents