In this National Safety Council map of the U.S., the letter grade for each state is based on how that state's policies have advanced safety overall — not just on the road but also in the home and community and in the workplace. Graphic courtesy of the National Safety Council.
None of the 50 states deserves an A grade for its overall safety policies, a new report from the National Safety Council concluded. But seven states drew an overall B grade from the council for their efforts in preventing injury and death on roads, in the home and community, and at the workplace.
The states that earned an overall B grade from the National Safety Council (NSC) are California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Oregon and Washington. Washington D.C. also warranted a B, according to the NSC’s “State of Safety” report.
In the category of road safety, the report’s top five performers are Illinois, Louisiana, Washington D.C., Delaware and Maine. The bottom five states in this category are Wyoming, Arizona, Missouri, South Dakota and Montana.
An estimated 40,200 people died on U.S. roads in 2016, making motor vehicle crashes a leading cause of unintentional death in the U.S. — second only to drug overdoses.
To judge each state’s efforts to promote road safety, NSC looked at policy and legislation related to a wide range of risk factors. These factors included fatigue, alcohol use, seat belt use, speeding and distraction. Also considered were laws pertaining to child passengers, teen drivers, drivers 65 and older, bicyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians.
The report stressed that states have a major role to play in ensuring safe roads.
“A comprehensive road safety approach that integrates laws, enforcement and driver education can shift culture over time so safety becomes the norm, and safe behaviors become customary,” the report said.
While judging efforts to prevent alcohol-impaired driving, NSC gave the lowest grades to both Montana and Michigan. This subcategory’s criteria included the presence of a state sobriety checkpoint program, ignition interlock requirements for all first-time and repeat DUI offenders, administrative 90-plus-day license revocation for drivers who test above .08 blood alcohol content or who refuse the test, and a ban on open containers for drivers and passengers.
The report found only four states — California, Texas, Louisiana and New Jersey — to be “on track” with their seat belt policy. All other states lagged behind. The NSC advocates for primary-enforcement seat belt laws that cover all occupants and seating positions.
The worst performers in the fight against distracted driving, according to the report, are Montana, Arizona, Missouri and Florida. The NSC evaluated states based on whether they have a total ban on cell phone use for teens and novice drivers and a texting ban for all drivers.
In the report’s evaluation of state efforts to prevent dangerous vehicle speeds, the winners are Iowa and Illinois. Additionally, California is the leading state in the regulation of teen drivers, and Oregon is the leader in protecting motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians. Oklahoma and Tennessee are the leaders in protecting child passengers, according to the report.
To download the full State of Safety report, click here.