The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

New Report Grades States on Legislative Action to Make Highways Safer

January 16, 2013

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety on Jan. 15 released the group's 10th annual "roadmap" report, grading all 50 states and the District of Columbia on their action – or lack thereof – on 15 basic highway safety laws.

In the report, titled “The 2013 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws,” the safety advocacy group asserts that adoption of these 15 state laws is “essential to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce health care and other costs.” To learn about your state's status on each of the 15 laws cited by the group, click here.

In 2011, more than 32,000 people were killed and an estimated 2.2 million were injured in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S.

“In this year’s report we call on elected leaders in all states to make adoption of these 15 basic laws a top public health and safety priority during the 2013 legislative session,” said Jacqueline S. Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, in the report’s opening.  

This year’s report also focuses on new incentive grant programs created in July 2012 under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. The programs are aimed at encouraging state enactment of teen driver licensing laws, all-offender ignition interlock laws, distracted driving laws and occupant protection efforts.

In the view of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, state adoption of the following 15 laws is essential in the fight to make U.S. roads safer:

Adult Occupant Protection

Primary Enforcement Seat Belt Law -- Allows law enforcement officers to stop and ticket the driver when they see a violation of the seat belt law for front seat occupants. 

All-Rider Motorcycle Helmet Law -- Requires all motorcycle riders, regardless of age, to use a helmet that meets U.S. DOT standards or face a fine.

Child Passenger Safety

Booster Seat Law -- Requires, at a minimum, that children ages four through seven be placed in a child restraint system (booster seat) that is certified to meet U.S. DOT safety standards.


Teen Driving/ Graduated Licensing Programs

Learner’s Stage: Minimum Age 16 for Learner’s Permit -- A beginning teen driver is prohibited from obtaining a learner’s permit until the age of 16.

Learner’s Stage: Six-Month Holding Period Provision -- A beginning teen driver must be supervised by an adult licensed driver at all times during the learner’s stage. If the learner remains citation-free for six months, he or she may progress to the intermediate stage.

Learner’s Stage: 30-50 Hours of Supervised Driving Provision -- A beginning teen driver must receive at least 30-50 hours of behind-the-wheel training with an adult licensed driver during the learner’s stage.

Intermediate Stage: Nighttime Driving Restriction Provision -- Unsupervised driving is prohibited from at least 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Intermediate Stage: Passenger Restriction Provision -- This provision limits the number of teenage passengers who may legally ride with a teen driver without adult supervision. The optimal limit is no more than one non-familial teenage passenger.

Cell Phone Restriction -- This restriction prohibits all use of cellular devices (hand-held, hands-free and text messaging) by beginning teen drivers, except in the case of an emergency.

Age 18 for Unrestricted License -- A teen driver is prohibited from obtaining an unrestricted license until the age of 18, and one or both of the nighttime and passenger restrictions must last until age 18.

Impaired Driving

Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) -- This law mandates the installation of IIDs on the vehicles of any convicted drunk driving offenders.

Child Endangerment -- This law enhances an existing penalty for an impaired driving offender who endangers a minor.

Mandatory BAC Testing for Killed and Surviving Drivers -- These statutes require the blood alcohol content (BAC) testing of the driver of a vehicle involved in a fatal crash regardless of whether the driver survived the crash or was killed in the crash.

Open Container -- This law prohibits open containers of alcohol in the passenger area of a motor vehicle. To comply with federal requirements, the law must prohibit both possession of any open alcoholic beverage container and the consumption of alcohol from an open container; apply to the entire passenger area of any motor vehicle; apply to all vehicle occupants except for passengers of buses, taxi cabs, limousines or persons in the living quarters of motor homes; apply to vehicles on the shoulder of public highways; and require primary enforcement of the law.

Distracted Driving

All-Driver Text Messaging Restriction -- This law prohibits all drivers from sending, receiving or reading a text message from any handheld or electronic data communication device, except in the case of an emergency.

To access the full report and learn how your state fared, click here.  

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