New Survey Assesses States’ Traffic Laws

How does your home state stack up against the others in terms of its highway safety laws?

Earlier this month Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety released the “2014 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws”.  The study, which the group conducts annually, rates the 50 states and the District of Columbia for their basic vehicle safety laws.

The 2014 Roadmap study is the first to take into account whether states allow police to stop drivers for the sole reason that their backseat passengers are not wearing their seat-belts.  States without the so-called “primary enforcement” law were not eligible for the group’s highest rating of “Green”. Other ratings include Yellow and Red for states with the worst traffic laws.

The 2014 edition of the Roadmap of State Highway Laws has garnered more attention than previous reports in part because of the recent rise in the number of automobile fatalities. Between 1989 and 2011, motor vehicle-related fatalities fell by nearly 27 percent.  Last fall, however, the NHTSA reported that there was a 3.3 percent year-to-year increase in highway deaths in 2012.

Last year a number of states enacted new laws aimed at reducing the number of fatalities. West Virginia enacted a primary enforcement law which allows police to stop motorists for not having front-seat passengers properly buckled up.  However, seventeen states still do not allow for primary enforcement based on front seat passengers’ failure to wear their seat belts.

Nineteen states do not have laws requiring children between the ages of four and seven to be seated in booster seats.

Hawaii and Virginia enacted new laws to prevent drivers from texting while behind the wheel.  Thirteen states have no legal restrictions on texting while driving.

California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington all received a Green rating as did the District of Columbia.

States receiving a Red rating were deemed to be “dangerously behind” in terms of their traffic safety laws.  They included Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

The remaining twenty-nine states received a Yellow rating.

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