ADVOCATES FOR HIGHWAY & AUTO SAFETY
A major surface transportation authorization bill passed by Congress last summer and signed into law by President Obama on July 6, 2012 includes several important provisions to improve the safety of vehicles, drivers and roads. In particular, new incentive grant programs were established to encourage state enactment of comprehensive teen driver licensing laws, ignition interlock laws for all impaired driving offenders, distracted driving laws and occupant protection programs.
As evidenced by the 2013 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws, the 10th annual edition of the report, the majority of states have been slow to pass these critical lifesaving laws. In this year’s report we call on elected leaders in all states to make adoption of these 15 basic laws a top public health and safety priority during the 2013 legislative session.
States that take action will benefit threefold: First, preventable deaths and injuries will be reduced; Second, medical and work loss costs associated with crashes often borne by states such as Medicaid, hospitalization, emergency responders and law enforcement will be saved; and, Third, states will reap financial benefits by qualifying for federal grants. This is a win for motorists, for state budgets, and for taxpayers.
While it is welcoming news that 2011 highway deaths have fallen to 32,367, a 1.9% decrease from 2010, it is concerning that preliminary figures for the first nine months of 2012 indicate a 7.1% increase in fatalities compared to 2011. Moreover, annual costs to society from motor vehicle crashes remain at more than $230 billion. There is no better time for states to act than now.
The 2013 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws provides state legislatures with a clear, commonsense and cost-effective plan of action for saving lives, conserving taxpayer dollars and reaping financial rewards. While there has been some progress since our first report was released ten years ago, even today there is still no state that has all 15 traffic safety laws. Unfortunately, the public is paying with their lives and their wallets for this delay.
Traffic safety laws to protect children and teens, keep drunk drivers off of our roads and stop distracted driving have the potential to save thousands of lives and billions of dollars annually. Congress has passed legislation that should spur state action and financially reward states. It is time for Governors, state legislators, public opinion leaders and others to take advantage of these unique lifesaving and cost-saving opportunities. It is time to stop the delay and get into the game.
About Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety
“Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is an alliance of consumer, medical, public health, and safety groups and insurance companies and agents working together to make America’s roads safer. Advocates encourages the adoption of federal and state laws, policies and programs that save lives and reduce injuries. By joining its resources with others, Advocates helps build coalitions to increase participation of a wide array of groups in public policy initiatives which advance highway and auto safety.”