In January, the Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety released their "report card" that evaluates each state's current highway safety laws. The report card grades each state based on its compliance with 16 safety laws that are proven to decrease fatalities and injury. The organization hopes to provide lawmakers with a reference to guide policymaking in the right direction.
The report includes vital pieces of information, including:
- Car crashes cost individuals $784 each in terms of societal cost.
- Vehicle crashes cost the U.S. $836 billion annually if you factor in pain, loss of life, and decreased quality of life.
- 100 people are killed and 6,500 people are injured every day from car crashes.
As truck accident lawyers, we believe it's vital for all of us to stop thinking about truck accidents and car crashes as one-time costs and one-time events. These are public safety issues that cost the public nearly $1 trillion every year. The implementation of existing safety technology could save each person in American hundreds of dollars—if only policymakers would act on the available information.
As cars become safer, the roads are getting worse. From 2016 to 2017, there was a 9 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities, an 8.8 percent increase in the deaths of elderly people on the road, and 5.4 percent increase in accidents involving a large truck.
With the advent of autonomous vehicles on the horizon, some object to reforming or adding to current highway safety laws—what's the point if we're just going to be getting rid of drivers anyway? To that, founder and President Emeritus of the Advocates Jackie Gillian says, "We cannot allow lawmakers and policymakers to hide behind tomorrow’s promise of driverless cars by prolonging adoption of laws and technology that could be saving thousands of lives today."
The Laws Missing from the Nation's Safety Rules
According to the report, there are 407 laws missing across the nation that would complete each state's "perfect grade" of 16 safety laws. That's just over half. Among these missing laws are 16 states that don't have a primary enforcement of seat belts statute (as in, a law allowing officers to pull drivers over specifically for not having a seatbelt).
According to their report card, these states have the fewest highway safety laws, earning them a "red" rating:
- South Dakota
- New Hampshire
An additional 41 states and D.C. lack a law requiring children up to age 2 to sit in a rear-facing car seat. Such a law is proven to vastly increase an infant's chances of surviving a collision. Thirty-five states lack even a good booster seat law. Another 31 states lack an "optimal" all-rider motorcycle helmet law.
Texas ranks firmly in the middle of the pack (earning a "yellow" rating), but given the high number of trucking fatalities that take place within our state, we hope our lawmakers continue fighting for better, safer highways.