Group ranks states on safety legislation

| 2/21/2008

The group Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety has issued its annual grade card on which states have adopted what it considers to be key highway safety legislation, such as required seat belts and motorcycle helmets.

The AHAS is composed of consumer, safety, law enforcement and insurance organizations. The group called for extensive and uniform safety laws in all 50 states and said the government should withhold federal highway funds from those states that are slow to act.

Most states have adopted at least 6 of the 15 model laws the group supports.

Although the report found that no state has adopted all 15 traffic safety measures, it gave grades of “green” – the highest score – to the following 17 states that came the closest with 11 or more laws: Alabama, California, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington. The District of Columbia received a green rating, as well.

Three states were rated “red” and were cited as having a “dangerous lack” of safety legislation, including not having a primary seat belt law. Those states are Arkansas, South Dakota and Wyoming. The majority of states received “yellow,” or average, grades, signifying that they were somewhere in between the green and red.

In 2006, more than 42,600 people were killed and 2.5 million were injured in motor vehicle crashes in the United States, which was the second-highest number of traffic deaths since 1990 when 44,599 people died, according to AHAS information.