WASHINGTON, D.C. --- As state legislatures convene across the country for their 2010 sessions, AAA said it is looking to build on a relatively successful campaign of traffic safety law improvements last year.
"Last year brought more than a dozen big wins for traffic safety on core needs like teen driver safety, primary seat belt laws, and child passenger safety, as well as more than a dozen states enacting text messaging bans," said AAA Vice President of Public Affairs Kathleen Marvaso. "AAA is working with legislators and other safety advocates in statehouses across the country to draft and pass legislation in 2010 that will make roads safer. Traffic safety improvements should generate special interest in states facing budget challenges. These laws reduce governments' medical and emergency response costs by preventing crashes, injuries and deaths. What's more, some states could receive millions of dollars in financial incentives for passing some of these laws."
AAA's main traffic safety priorities in the states include:
- Texting while driving bans -- AAA last year launched a national campaign to pass laws in all 50 states to ban text messaging while driving. With a dozen states having enacted these laws in 2009, there are now 19 states with laws prohibiting drivers of all ages from texting. AAA expects nearly every remaining state will consider this legislation in 2010.
- Teen driver safety -- Although every state has some form of graduated driver licensing for new teen drivers, AAA said that nearly every state still has opportunities to improve these laws. States such as Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, New York, Oklahoma and West Virginia made significant changes in 2009, such as increasing the age and requirements for getting a license and adding or altering limits on teen passengers and nighttime driving for newly licensed teens. But just six states (Delaware, Indiana, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma and West Virginia) have graduated driver licensing systems that meet AAA's guidelines for nighttime limits, passenger limits and practice requirements.
- Booster seat laws -- Three states (Arizona, Florida and South Dakota) lack booster seat requirements, which AAA said have been shown to improve safety for young passengers. Five states (Alaska, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island and Texas) enacted laws in 2009 requiring booster seats for children under age eight. Despite this change, booster seat laws in 24 states fall short of including all children under age eight.
- Primary seat belt laws -- After a record setting year in 2009 in which four states (Arkansas, Florida, Minnesota and Wisconsin) changed their seat belt laws to allow primary enforcement by police, AAA said it will continue to work to change laws in the remaining 20 states without a primary belt law. Primary seat belt laws, AAA said, are a low-cost way for states to quickly increase belt use, reduce traffic deaths, and lower the cost of crashes.
- Move-over laws -- Nearly every state (47 states) has a law that requires drivers to slow down and, if safe, move over when passing an emergency vehicle that is actively working on a roadway. Six states (Alabama, Delaware, Ohio, Oregon, Nebraska and Nevada) changed their laws in 2009 to include tow trucks and other road service vehicles, increasing the number of states with these more comprehensive laws to 38. AAA said it will continue to promote these laws that have been shown to improve safety for police, tow truck operators, and others who work on roadways.