Jen Maly (202) 408-1711 x20 email@example.com
Thursday, January 8, 2004
Bronrott (301) 652-6016 firstname.lastname@example.org
HERE for the complete report
STATES OPEN 2004 LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS,
NEW STUDY SHOWS DEADLY GAPS IN STATE ROAD SAFETY LAWS
Urge States to Enact 16 Essential Seat Belt, Child Restraint,
Drunk Driving and Motorcycle Helmet Laws to Curb Rise in U.S.
D.C. (January 8, 2004) -- Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
(Advocates) today released its first "Roadmap to State
Highway Safety Laws: A Report on States in the Passing Lane, in
the Slow Lane and Stopped on the Shoulder" that found
many dangerous gaps in a patchwork quilt of state highway safety
laws that are contributing to the rise in U.S. highway deaths
report details where the 50 states and the District of Columbia
"pass or fail" on 16 proven-effective highway safety
laws in the four categories of adult occupant protection, child
passenger safety, teen driving and impaired driving.
report found that no state has all 16 laws in place. There are
only a few states, such as California, North Carolina and Washington
that are in the "passing lane" because they have most
of the laws plus a primary enforcement seat belt law. There are
more states "stopped on the shoulder," such as Alaska,
Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, Rhode Island and Wyoming, because
they have the weakest adult occupant protection laws and have
big gaps in their drunk driving, teen driving and child passenger
safety laws. And, most states are crowded in the "slow lane"
because they lack most of the 16 lifesaving traffic laws.
the majority of state legislatures opening their 2004 sessions
this month, Advocates sent the report to the nation's Governors
and urged them to enact legislation this year to ensure that all
16 laws are uniformly in effect across the nation.
vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death to Americans ages
2 to 33. In 2002 alone, 6.3 million traffic crashes resulted in
42,815 deaths and 3 million injuries, representing a 12 year high.
Highway crashes cost U.S. taxpayers and the economy $230 billion
annually, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
numerous lifesaving laws have been passed by states over the years,
"unfortunately, there is still a vast, unfinished public
health and safety agenda, including enactment of primary enforcement
seat belt, impaired driving, all-rider motorcycle helmet use,
booster seat and teen driving laws," said Judith Lee Stone,
President of Advocates. "Without these laws being uniformly
applied as a foundation for an aggressive traffic enforcement
program, states will struggle to reverse the rising tide of highway
deaths and injuries."
report found "a patchwork quilt" of state traffic safety
laws across the nation with gaping holes in need of repair. For
example, 30 states do not have a primary enforcement seat belt
law, 31 states do not require all motorcycle riders to wear a
helmet, 16 states have dangerous gaps in their child restraint
laws, 28 states need booster seat laws, and no state protects
new teen drivers with an optimal graduated driver licensing (GDL)
program. Additionally, many impaired driving laws are missing
in numerous states throughout the nation.
contrast, every person flying on every airplane, in every state,
is subject to the same uniform safety laws and regulations set
by the federal government," said Jacqueline Gillan, Vice
President of Advocates. "This uniformity has been the foundation
for achieving an exemplary aviation safety record in the U.S.
Were this the case for motor vehicle travel, and nearly every
state had the same essential traffic safety laws, thousands of
deaths and millions of injuries could be prevented. This report
shows that we are a long way from achieving this goal."
report divides the 16 model laws into four issue categories. In
each category, states are listed alphabetically in one of three
sections: Good, Average and Poor. 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. The four issue sections and corresponding laws are:
Adult Occupant Protection (2 laws): a primary enforcement seat
belt law and an all-rider motorcycle helmet law.
Child Passenger Safety (2 laws): a child restraint law with no
gaps and a child booster seat law.
Teen Driving -- Optimal Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Program
Provisions (4 laws):
Stage: 6-Month Holding Period and 30-50 Hours Supervised Driving
Intermediate Stage: Nighttime Driving Restriction and Passenger
Impaired Driving (8 laws): .08 Percent BAC per se, repeat offender,
open container, high blood-alcohol content (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.
driving and motorcycle deaths are up, the number of teen drivers
killed in crashes has increased and more than half of car occupants
killed in crashes are not buckled up," said Advocates' President
Stone. "These crashes cost Americans an estimated $230 billion
annually in property and productivity loss, medical and emergency
bills and other related costs."
is a unique alliance of insurance companies and consumer, health,
safety and law enforcement organizations that work together to
advance state and national highway and vehicle safety policy.
W. Hargarten, MD, MPH, a member of the Advocates' board who is
Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine and Director
of The Injury Research Center, Medical College of Wisconsin, pointed
out that "with the stroke of a pen, governors and legislators
can save more lives when a law is enacted than I and my emergency
medicine colleagues can in our entire careers."
Vice President Gillan added that the U.S. is "facing a major
and costly public health epidemic on our highways. Just as we
vaccinate against the flu and other diseases, there is a public
policy vaccine: proven effective laws that are ready to be implemented
across the nation."
such measure is a primary enforcement seat belt law that requires
anyone riding in a motor vehicle, as defined by state law, to
buckle up or face a fine. No other citation need be issued first
in order to write such a ticket. More than 50 percent of those
people killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2002 were not protected
by a seat belt. Thirty (30) states still do not have a primary
enforcement seat belt law, including Tennessee.
Tennessee had a primary enforcement seat belt law, many more teens
and adults would buckle up," said Kristen Appleby, whose
brother Michael, age 16, was killed in November 2001 when he was
not wearing his seat belt and was ejected from his SUV. "My
family is convinced that if our state had primary enforcement,
Michael would have known that he should wear his seat belt and
he would still be here with us today."
all-rider motorcycle helmet law protects riders from death or
serious injury by requiring helmet use, no matter what age, on
every ride. For the fifth consecutive year, motorcycle deaths
climbed, to a total of 3,244 in 2002 - a 50 percent increase since
10 states (AL, CA, GA, MD, MI, NJ, NY, NC, OR, WA) and DC have
both a primary enforcement seat belt law and an all-rider motorcycle
helmet law. 30 states do not have a primary enforcement seat belt
law. 31 states do not have an all-rider motorcycle helmet use
law. 21 states have neither law on their books.
vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and disability
of American teenagers. Deaths of young drivers (ages 16-20) increased
by more than 5 percent in 2002 compared to 2001 - a total of 3,723
deaths. An optimal graduated driver licensing (GDL) program provides
for a 6-month holding period, 30-50 hours supervised driving,
and nighttime driving and teenage passenger restrictions.
report found that no state has an optimal graduated driver licensing
(GDL) program. 11 states and the District of Columbia (DC) have
three of the four necessary provisions that make an optimal GDL
program, 15 states have two of the four optimal provisions, 16
states have one of the four optimal provisions, and 8 states have
no optimal provisions in their GDL program.
considers a child restraint law with no gaps to be one where all
passengers up to age 16 must be secured in either a child restraint
or a seat belt, regardless of seating position. Many states have
gaps in their laws that exempt children seated in the back seat
or in out-of-state vehicles. A state is considered to have no
gaps only if all children up to age 16 are covered in every seating
position and there are no exemptions.
all children should be in age and size appropriate restraint systems,
Advocates considers a booster seat law one that explicitly requires
children to graduate to a belt-positioning booster seat when too
large for a conventional car seat and too small for an adult seat
belt. Booster seats raise a child off the vehicle seat in order
to improve the fit of lap and shoulder belts across the lower
(pelvis) and upper body (chest) of the child. Only 15 states and
DC have enacted both a child restraint law with no gaps and a
child booster seat law.
2002, alcohol-related deaths rose for the second year in a row
to a total of 17,419. Only 10 states have enacted all eight key
anti-drunk driving measures featured in the report.
a time when most Governors and state legislatures are facing major
budget deficits and difficult budget choices, passing these 16
laws will save lives and save dollars," Advocates' President
Stone said. "We all pay the price of states having weak highway
safety laws. That is why this report is a call to action for states
to act swiftly. Without such action, Congress should step in to
bring down the tragic and preventable death toll."
complete report can be found here.
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