A recent report that analyzes efforts states make to ensure
safety on the highways suggests Idaho has room for improvement.
report is called Roadmap to State Highway Safety Laws:
A Report on States in the Passing Lane, in the Slow Lane and
Stopped on the Shoulder. It details where the 50 states
and the District of Columbia "pass or fail" on 16
proven-effective highway safety laws in four categories: adult
occupant protection, child passenger safety, teen driving
and impaired driving. It was released by Advocates for Highway
and Auto Safety earlier this month.
Our top concern is for the safety of people traveling
on Idahos highways, said Lance Johnson, ITD Office
of Highway Safety. Weve been working with lawmakers
to strengthen the seat belt law, and were making strides
toward improving safety on our roads.
Johnson cites a 9 percent increase in seat belt use in 2003,
and a 13 percent decrease in alcohol-related deaths, as reported
by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Even with these accomplishments, this report is a serious
reminder that we still have work to do, Johnson said.
While the report found no state has all 16 laws in place,
some are in the passing lane. States such as California,
North Carolina and Washington have most of the identified
16 laws, plus a primary enforcement seat belt law.
There are more states stopped on the shoulder,
such as Alaska, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, Rhode Island
and Wyoming, because they have the weakest adult occupant
protection laws and have big gaps in their drunk driving,
teen driving and child passenger safety laws. Most states,
however, are crowded in the slow lane because
they lack most of the 16 life-saving traffic laws.
While numerous life-saving laws have been passed by states
over the years, unfortunately, there is still a vast,
unfinished public health and safety agenda, including enactment
of primary enforcement seat belt, impaired driving, all-rider
motorcycle helmet use, booster seat and teen driving laws,
said Judith Lee Stone, president of Advocates for Highway
and Auto Safety.
Without these laws being uniformly applied as a foundation
for an aggressive traffic enforcement program, states will
struggle to reverse the rising tide of highway deaths and
The report found variations in state traffic safety laws
across the nation. For example:
In contrast, every person flying on every airplane,
in every state, is subject to the same uniform safety laws
and regulations set by the federal government, said
Jacqueline Gillan, vice president of the advocacy group. This
uniformity has been the foundation for achieving an exemplary
aviation safety record in the U.S. Were this the case for
motor vehicle travel, and nearly every state had the same
essential traffic safety laws, thousands of deaths and millions
of injuries could be prevented. This report shows that we
are a long way from achieving this goal.
The report divides 16 model laws into four issue categories.
In each category, states are listed alphabetically in one
of three sections: Good, Average and Poor. The four sections
and corresponding laws are:
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for
Americans ages 2 to 33. During 2002 in Idaho, 264 people were
killed and 14,762 were injured in traffic crashes. Nationwide,
6.3 million crashes resulted in 42,815 deaths and 3 million
injuries. Highway crashes cost taxpayers and the economy $230
billion annually, according to the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is a group of insurance
companies and consumer, health, safety and law enforcement
organizations that work together to advance state and national
highway and vehicle safety policy.
For a full copy of the report, visit www.saferoads.org