New report: Traffic fatalities on the rise and state legislatures are missing in action

New report: Traffic fatalities on the rise and state legislatures are missing in action

WASHINGTON, DC - This is a news release from Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

Today, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) released the 2016 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws. This is the 13th year Advocates has issued this annual report which serves as a "report card" for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, grading them on enactment of 15 basic traffic safety laws.  The theme of this year's Report, "Missing in Action," was chosen because of a disturbing trend in advancing the highway safety agenda in states last year.  Preliminary data indicate that in 2015 highway fatalities are expected to increase 8 percent or more, reversing a two-year gradual decline.  The Report found that all states are still missing critically important safety laws and state legislative leadership is missing.  In 2015 the fewest number of states, only six, enacted recommended safety laws since Advocates began publishing the report in 2004.

"Across the nation, state legislatures are missing in action while more people are being killed in motor vehicle crashes. People are needlessly dying on our highways while state legislators are needlessly delaying enactment of lifesaving laws.  Not only are state legislatures failing to pass safety laws, but existing laws are under serious attack.  This year states considered repealing laws requiring motorcycle helmet and seat belt use as well as teen driving protections.  As legislatures kick into gear in 2016, we urge Governors and lawmakers to advance these laws.  They will save lives and save taxpayer dollars," said Jackie Gillan, President of Advocates.

The 15 optimal laws recommended by Advocates are based on indisputable research and decades of experience showing them to be effective at curbing preventable crashes. Each state is assigned a rating, both in five categories and an overall grade of: Green (Good); Yellow (Caution); and Red (Danger).  Those states that earned the top rating of green were: DE, IL, OR, HI, IN, ME, RI, WA, CA, LA and the District of Columbia. Those states that were assigned a red rating, which are seriously behind in adoption of the 15 recommended laws are: SD, AZ, IA, MS, MT, NE, WY, FL, and ND.

The new state laws enacted in 2015 are:

  • Primary Enforcement of Seat Belts: Front and Rear Seats - Utah (16 states still need front seat; 32 states need rear seat)
  • All-Rider Motorcycle Helmet Law:  None adopted or repealed (31 states still need this law)
  • Booster Seats (ages 4 through 7):  Kentucky, Oklahoma (17 states still need this law)
  • Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) for teen drivers: None adopted (No state currently has all of the components of a comprehensive GDL law. 174 laws are needed to addressing missing provisions)
  • Impaired Driving:  Texas (ignition interlock devices for all offenders), West Virginia (Open Container); (35 states and DC are missing laws, a total of 40 laws)
  • All-Driver Text Messaging Restriction: Mississippi, Oklahoma (9 states still need a texting ban).

In addition to Advocates' President Jackie Gillan, speakers at today's Report Release are:

Dr. Mark Rosekind, Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

J. Thomas Manger, Montgomery County, Maryland Chief of Police

Dr. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director, American Public Health Association

Joan Claybrook, Advocates' Consumer Co-Chair, and former NHTSA Administrator in the Carter Administration

Bill Vainisi, Advocates' Insurance Co-Chair, and Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Allstate Insurance Company

Tammy and Paul Kalp (Dover, DE), Paul is a survivor of a motorcycle crash while not wearing a helmet

Cathy Chase, Advocates' Vice President of Government Affairs

The 2016 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws, speaker statements, a press release with quotes from each of the speakers, and the news conference webcast can be found at