Report: Kansas, Missouri lack some model traffic safety laws

The Kansas City Star

Report: Kansas, Missouri lack some model traffic safety laws

By BRAD COOPER

The Kansas City Star

Mon, Jan. 12, 2009

The death toll on Missouri highways hit a 25-year low last year, and a new traffic safety report card might offer a reason why.

Missouri had 10 of 15 laws considered to be models for ensuring driving safety, according to a new report by the Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety. Kansas didn’t fare as well with only eight of the 15 laws, according to the report released this afternoon.

Both states were given a “yellow” rating, meaning they are advancing but still have gaps in their safety laws.

However, Kansas was ranked among 14 states considered as performing moderately and “dangerously close” to being rated poor in the study.

Still missing on Missouri’s list, according to the traffic safety group:

• Cell phone restrictions for teen drivers.

• A primary seat-belt law that allows drivers to be pulled over simply because they aren’t buckled up.

• An open-container law.

• A law that increases the penalties for driving drunk with a child in the car.

Among the measures Kansas lacks:

• A primary seat-belt law.

• A helmet law for motorcycle riders.

• Night driving restrictions for teens.

• A cell phone restriction for teen drivers.

• A law that increases the penalties for driving with increased alcohol levels (those well above 0.08 percent blood alcohol).

The report comes as both states are about to start legislative sessions. Passing a primary seat-belt law is the top legislative priority for the Missouri Department of Transportation. Highway officials are convinced they can slash deaths even more if lawmakers pass the law.

Currently, police in Kansas and Missouri can ticket you for not wearing a belt only if they pull you over for another violation. Twenty-five states have primary laws.

To reach Brad Cooper, call 816-234-7724 or send e-mail to bcooper@kcstar.com.

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