Highway safety report card ranks Ill., Ore., D.C. as best and South Dakota as worst

Seatbelt- ODA nationwide survey has ranked Illinois, Oregon and the District of Columbia the best and South Dakota the worst in adoption of highway safety laws.

The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety released its 11th annual report card measuring state progress in passing laws that further motorist safety at its Jan. 22 press conference. The coalition of consumer, safety, health and insurance companies evaluate state performance in passing 15 laws regarding occupant protection, child safety, teen driving, impaired driving and distracted driving.

States are given either green or red ratings, green being the top rating. States without primary enforcement seat belt laws for every passenger or that have repealed existing all-rider motorcycle helmet laws in the past decade are not eligible to receive a green rating. 

Of the 15 laws, South Dakota has approved two and Mississippi has four of these measures.

States ranked as best are required have 11 of the 15 laws, which must include primary enforcement of seat belts. If states have primary enforcement seat belt and an all-rider helmet law for motorcycle riders, they can still qualify for the the top tier.

Illinois, Oregon and the District of Columbia each passed 12 of these laws, while Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, Rhode Island and Washington each approved 11 of these measures.

Hawaii, Indiana and Maine were the only states Advocates rated as having progressed since last year.

Compared to 2012, rankings fell during 2013 for Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Alabama, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire.

Advocates voiced frustration that more states do not have existing laws concerning primary enforcement of seat belts and mandating helmets for all motorcycle riders. Trucking safety received little discussion, albeit, the Advocate’s Joan Claybrook mentioned lawmakers have received heavy pressure to hike the size and weight allowance for trucks.

Still, progress has been made in highway safety, according to the Advocates consumer co-chair and Public Citizen president emeritus. In 2012, there were 33,500 highway fatalities, 12,000 fewer than in 1989, the year the organization was founded.