Traffic overall has dropped across the country during the Covid-19 pandemic, but there has been a substantial rise in the fatality crash rate, thought to be the result of spikes in excessive speeding, impaired and distracted driving, and lower seat belt use.
A new report, which identified best and worst states based on the passage of 16 essential traffic safety laws, aims to help lawmakers reverse “a shocking and deadly trend….to turn the page on a year when emptier roads turned into risky racetracks.”
The report, “2021 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws,” was released at a virtual press conference in Washington earlier this month by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, an alliance of consumer, medical, public health, law enforcement, and safety organizations as well as insurance companies and agents.
Best States: New York, Rhode Island, District of Columbia, Washington, Delaware, Maine, Oregon, California and Louisiana.
Worst States: Missouri, Wyoming, Montana, Arizona, Florida, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont and Virginia.
“As our Nation continues to cope with the devastating, wide-ranging ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, said in a statement, the goal of the new report is “to spur action to implement proven solutions to keep motorists and road users safe – and out of the over-extended emergency rooms.”
Chase said that since the safety group began publishing the annual report, which is in its 18th year, nearly 600,000 people have been killed on the nation’s roads and more than 40 million more have been injured.
The report was created to provide a roadmap of countermeasures to help state representatives during the 2021 legislative sessions pass laws known to be effective in: occupant protection, child passenger safety, graduated driver licensing (GDL), impaired driving, and distracted driving. Each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia received a rating — Green (Good), Yellow (Caution) or Red (Danger) — based on the number of optimal traffic safety laws enacted. “Dangerous gaps” in legislation, like weak or nonexistent laws, were also identified.