Posts Tagged ‘seat belt’

Distracted Driving and Teen Driver Safety Top AAA’s Nationwide Legislative Agenda

WASHINGTON, D.C., (January 17, 2012) – Recent public attention to distracted driving will likely spur additional legislative activity as states convene their 2012 sessions, according to AAA. Laws that ban texting while driving and that improve teen driver safety again top AAA’s nationwide legislative agenda to improve highway safety.  

“Last month’s NTSB recommendation will lead state legislatures to consider a range of bills to address distracted driving during 2012,” said AAA Vice President of Public Affairs Kathleen Marvaso.  “Few states have given serious legislative consideration to full cell phone bans, but AAA expects continued progress in our campaign to pass laws banning texting while driving in all 50 states, as well as enacting full wireless bans for new teen drivers and laws that increase penalties for drivers who crash or commit violations while driving distracted.

“AAA will also continue to work with legislators and other safety advocates in statehouses across the country to pass lifesaving laws that improve teen driver licensing and increase seat belt and child safety seat requirements.” 

AAA’s top traffic safety priorities in the states include:

Texting while driving bans: AAA in 2009 launched a national campaign to pass laws banning text messaging while driving in all 50 states. Five states enacted these laws in 2011, increasing the number of states to 35 with laws prohibiting all drivers from texting. AAA expects nearly every one of the 15 remaining states to consider this legislation in 2012.

Teen driver safety: The push for graduated driver licensing (GDL) for new teen drivers isn’t new, yet nearly every state still has opportunities to improve these laws that save lives and reduce crashes by easing teens into driving. While some advocates focused on Congressional legislation to incentivize states to improve GDL systems, AAA worked for significant improvements in North Dakota and Pennsylvania in 2011. This year presents opportunities for states to improve safety by increasing the age and requirements for getting a license, banning the use of wireless communications devices for novice drivers, and adding or improving limits on teen passengers and nighttime driving for newly licensed teens. Just six states (Delaware, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, and West Virginia) have GDL systems that meet AAA’s guidelines for nighttime limits, passenger limits, and practice requirements. 

Booster seat laws: Despite their proven ability to reduce injuries and deaths for child passengers, three states (Arizona, Florida and South Dakota) continue without booster seat requirements. Georgia and California increased their booster seat ages in 2011, leaving 19 states with booster seat laws that fall short of meeting safety experts’ guidelines, which include all children under age 8.

Primary seat belt laws: AAA and other safety advocates will continue to work to improve laws in the remaining 18 states without a primary belt law, as well as attempt to increase fines in some states with weak penalties and expand seat belt requirements to include back seat passengers in remaining states. Primary seat belt laws have repeatedly been shown as a low cost way for states to quickly increase belt use, reduce traffic deaths, and lower the cost of crashes. 

Move over laws: Every state except Hawaii and the District of Columbia requires drivers to slow down and, if safe, “move over” when passing an emergency vehicle that is actively working on a roadway. Additionally, 45 states, including Arizona, New York and Texas, which improved their laws in 2011, also require drivers to move over for tow trucks. AAA will continue to promote these laws in the remaining states.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

WASHINGTON, D.C. , February 4, 2009

But States Need to Act Soon

Many states with record budget shortfalls could receive additional federal safety improvement and infrastructure funding, while saving lives, by strengthening their safety belt laws. But they need to act soon, according to a coalition of auto-related groups. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, AAA, the National Automobile Dealers Association and the National Safety Council are calling on state legislators to pass “primary enforcement” safety belt laws so they will qualify for the federal incentives, which can be up to $35.5 million, depending on a state’s population and its current belt usage. The incentive grants are set to expire June 30. If all of these states upgraded their laws, hundreds of lives would be saved each year.

“Safety belts have been called the most effective safety technology in history, in terms of their ability to reduce serious and fatal injuries in motor vehicle crashes,” said Dave McCurdy, president and CEO of the Auto Alliance.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that passage of primary safety belt laws in these states would save at least 737 lives, prevent 10,861 injuries, and save $2.53 billion in crash costs annually. Recognizing these benefits, Congress created an incentive program in Section 406 of its 2005 highway program authorization to encourage states to enact and enforce primary safety belt laws, using grants as an additional incentive to pass the life-saving laws.

“If we’re serious about reducing deaths and injuries on our roads, then we must pass comprehensive primary seat belt laws in the states that lack them,” said Robert L. Darbelnet, president and CEO of AAA. “There’s a bottom line benefit for states, too, through millions in federal incentive dollars and reduced costs to state and local government.”

Primary enforcement laws enable law enforcement officers to stop a motorist whenever a violation is observed. Secondary enforcement laws require the officer to observe another traffic violation before stopping and citing a motorist for not buckling up. Eighteen of the 25 states that do not have primary safety belt laws covering all passenger vehicles are eligible to receive the incentive funds. The remaining seven states have already qualified for the funds by reaching required belt use rates.

“We know from previous studies that a majority of Americans support primary seat belt laws because they save lives and save states significant dollars in health care costs,” said Janet

Froetscher, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “State legislators need to know that when they support primary seat belt laws, a majority of voters will support them.”

Studies of states that changed their laws from secondary to primary enforcement have reported median 7 percent to 8 percent reductions in fatalities and an average 11 percentage point increase in safety belt use. Safety belts reduce the chance of being fatally injured in a traffic crash by 45 percent or more, depending on the type of crash and the types of vehicles involved.

“The quickest and least expensive way for a state to reduce highway fatalities immediately is by enacting a primary belt law,” said Phil Brady, president of the National Automobile Dealers Association. “We urge states without primary belt laws to reexamine this issue.”

The following Section 406 incentive grant amounts are available to states enacting and enforcing primary enforcement safety belt laws meeting criteria established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

Arizona: $12,194,224; Arkansas: $9,497,497; Colorado: $12,015,277; Florida: $35,502,008; Idaho: $4,543,081; Kansas: $11,184,630; Massachusetts: $13,596,153; Missouri: $16,203,001; Montana: $4,854,709; Nebraska: $7,437,184; New Hampshire: $3,725,188; North Dakota: $5,138,213; Ohio: $26,757,615; Rhode Island: $3,725,188; South Dakota: $5,213,510; Virginia: $16,574,441; Wisconsin: $15,237,150; and Wyoming: $3,725,188.

Note: Effectiveness data from National Cooperative Highway Research Program Report 601.

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