|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||CONTACT: Jeremy Gunderson|
|January 5, 2006||(202) 408-1711 x27|
State Legislatures are Parking Lots for Lifesaving Traffic Safety Laws
New Study Finds Most States Still Lack Basic Occupant Protection, Drunk Driving, Child Safety and Teen Driving Laws
Progress Slow in Curbing #1 Killer of Young Americans; Safety Advocates Urge Governors, State Legislators to Put Lifesaving Laws on 2006 "Must Pass" List
WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 5, 2006) - Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) today released its 3rd annual highway safety report, "2006 Roadmap to State Highway Safety Laws-Players, Politics and Progress," that rates each state and the District of Columbia on their progress in adopting 14 essential laws to reduce the number one killer of Americans between the ages of four and 34 - highway crashes.
The new study found little to no progress in enactment of these 14 laws despite 6.2 million motor vehicle crashes in 2004 resulting in 42,636 deaths, 3 million injuries and an economic loss of $230 billion nationwide. "This is a public health epidemic by any measure and a political crisis in our state capitals," said Georges Benjamin, M.D., Executive Director of the American Public Health Association.
Advocates has identified 14 basic laws that each state should enact to significantly reduce highway deaths and injuries, such as a primary enforcement seat belt law, an all-rider motorcycle helmet law, a booster seat law covering children up to age 8, a four-point Graduated Drivers License program for new teen drivers, and seven drunk driving countermeasures.
The report found that no state had all 14 traffic safety laws and only 16 states and D.C. earned a passing safety rating of green (good). The green states were Alabama, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington, plus the District of Columbia. Four states, Alaska, Arkansas, South Dakota and Wyoming earned a red rating (danger - state is falling behind) and thirty (30) states received a yellow rating (caution - needs improvement).
"This year's scores show that 34 states lack fundamental traffic safety laws at a time when deaths and injuries continue unabated," said Judith Lee Stone, President of Advocates. "Most laws are languishing in a sea of political complacency in state capitals as bills fail to be introduced, die or are bottled up in legislative committees or are weakened by opponents."
The Roadmap Report found that:
28 states still need a primary enforcement seat belt law. South Carolina was the only state to enact such a law in 2005. More than half of those killed in motor vehicle crashes are unbelted.
30 states still need an all-rider motorcycle helmet law. Since 1997, motorcycle fatalities have jumped a staggering 89 percent, yet no state adopted an all-rider helmet law in 2005. 15 state legislatures considered helmet repeal measures. States that have repealed their all-rider laws have seen a significant increase in deaths. According to Advocates' 2004 Lou Harris poll, 82 percent of Americans support all-rider helmet laws.
17 states need a booster seat law; 39 states still need to upgrade their booster seat law to protect children up to age 8 or 80 pounds. Last year only two states (WA and WV) enacted Advocates' recommended booster seat law.
49 states do not protect teen drivers with an optimal Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) program. This past year only one state - Nevada - has enacted all four elements of a comprehensive Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) program: in the learner's permit stage, a six-month holding period and 30-50 hours of adult-supervised driving; in the intermediate stage, a 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. nighttime driving restriction and a passenger restriction.
States were rated on seven basic impaired driving laws. In 2005, only seven impaired driving laws recommended by Advocates were passed among all 50 states: two Child Endangerment (MA and MT); two High Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) (MA, TX); three Open Container (CO, IN, MT); and one Repeat Offender law (MA). In 2004, 40 percent of deaths on our highways involved drunk driving.
"Enacting highway safety laws in state legislatures is beginning to look like a board game. A few states move forward, many states are stuck in the same place while other states jump around and sometimes go backwards. The winners and losers are American families but governors and state legislators are playing with their lives," said Jackie Gillan, Vice President of Advocates. "Last year's state legislative activity can best be characterized by distraction, inaction and retraction."
Mary Jagim, an emergency room nurse from Fargo, ND, and prior president of the Emergency Nurses Association participated in the press conference as consumer co-chair of Advocates. Jagim said, "If I told you that hospitals in nearly every state lacked some of the most basic and fundamental emergency room technology and equipment to save lives, the public would be appalled, newspapers would be carrying stories on the front page, governors would be holding press conferences to announce corrective measures, and state legislative leaders would be clamoring to pass bills to fix the problem. And yet, we have the same situation when it comes to protecting the health and safety of families on our streets and highways in states across the country."
With the majority of state legislatures opening their 2006 sessions this month, Advocates sent the report to the nation's governors and urged them to accelerate adoption of these basic highway safety laws to ensure that all 14 laws are uniformly in effect across the nation.
"In 2006, with leadership in governors' mansions and state legislatures across the nation, we will improve on this record to draw a different and safer roadmap next year" said Alan Maness, Associate General Counsel, State Farm Insurance Companies. "Enacting federal and state laws to promote highway and auto safety is an effective strategy to reduce needless deaths and injuries.
Advocates' report divided the 14 model laws into four issue categories.
Occupant Protection (2 laws): Primary Enforcement Seat Belt Law and All-Rider Motorcycle Helmet Law.
Child Passenger Safety (1 law): Child Booster Seat Law for ages 4 to 8.
Optimal Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Program (4 laws): 6-Month Holding Period, 30-50 Hours Supervised Driving, Nighttime Driving Restriction and Passenger Restriction.
Impaired Driving (7 laws): Repeat Offender, Open Container, High BAC, Mandatory BAC Testing for Drivers Killed in Fatal Crashes, Mandatory BAC Testing for Drivers who Survive Fatal Crashes, Sobriety Checkpoints, and Child Endangerment Laws.
In each category, states are given one of three ratings based on how many optimal laws they have: Green (Good); Yellow (Caution); and Red (Danger). Placement in one of the three sections was based solely on whether or not a state has adopted a law as defined in the report, and not on any evaluation of a state's highway safety education-enforcement program or on fatality rates. Partial credit was given for states with booster seat and teen driving laws that did not meet Advocates' optimal definition.
The overall ratings for the four issue sections are:
Alabama, California, District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington.
Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Alaska, Arkansas, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is a coalition of consumer, health, safety and insurance companies working together to advance highway and auto safety.
2006 ROADMAP TO STATE HIGHWAY SAFETY LAWS
PLAYERS, POLITICS AND PROGRESS
|This report highlights gaps in Advocates' list of 14 essential and lifesaving highway safety laws and is a call to action for Governors and state legislators. Motor vehicle crashes continue to cause nearly 43,000 deaths and 3 million injuries per year and cost the nation over $230 billion. Passage of the 14 laws identified in Advocates' report will help prevent these tragedies and, at the same time, will save the states billions of dollars in economic costs associated with highway crashes.|
CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL REPORT
(72 pages...please be patient)
|In January 2004, Advocates published its first State Roadmap Report to provide guidance to each state on where it stood relative to the rest of the nation in implementing highway safety laws. This year, with few new laws to report, Advocates urges states to set an aggressive highway safety legislative agenda to stem the tide of deaths and injuries on our nation's roadways. More than any other action, public policy interventions change behavior and have immediate impact on improving outcomes. The laws recommended by Advocates save lives and save money.
Deaths from motor vehicle crashes changed very little this past year, (42,636 in 2004, from 42,643 in 2003) and motor vehicle crashes are still the leading cause of death for all Americans ages two to 33, killing 117 people every day. By any definition, this is truly a public health epidemic. If each highway safety law is considered a vaccine to inoculate our children, our friends, and our communities against a leading cause of death, every law listed in our Roadmap report should be at the top of each state's legislative agenda in 2006.
Seat Belts: Only one state, South Carolina, adopted a primary enforcement seat belt law; 28 states still need to adopt this important law.
Motorcycle Helmets: Currently, 30 states do not require all-rider helmet law protection. In most of the 20 states and DC with the optimal law, anti-helmet groups battle each year to repeal the all-rider helmet requirement. No state passed a motorcycle helmet law in 2005
Booster Seats: While five states passed booster seat laws (CT, ID, NM), only two of the states enacted Advocates' recommended booster seat law that covers children up to age eight (WA, WV). Out of 33 states and the District of Columbia (DC) with booster seat laws, only 11 states and DC have the recommended optimal booster seat law.
Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL)
For more information on this report, please contact Jeremy Gunderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 408-1711