A recent report calls for urgent action to improve highway safety.
Recent in-depth research shows just how inconsistent traffic laws are across this country and how some simple changes could dramatically improve safety. This research is summarized in the 2018 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws, published by Advocates for Highway Auto Safety (AHAS). The organization was founded by a collaborative of health and safety organizations in 1989 with the goal of working together to promote safer roads. Included in the Roadmap is a grade for each state when it comes to key safety issues. In its overall review of 2015-2016 traffic statistics, researchers note that 37,000 people were killed in auto accidents in 2016, which translates into a nearly six percent increase in deaths from the year before. In addition, millions more were injured in accidents. “This is a major public health epidemic by any measure,” the report concludes.
Each year, tens of thousands of people perish in vehicle crashes. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the numbers for 2017 are equally as bad, as more than 40,000 people were killed in car accidents. Here in Colorado, 648 people were killed in auto accidents last year. According to news reports, over the past few years, Colorado saw an increase in traffic fatalities, and 2018 is not proving to be any safer. So, what can be done to improve safety? According to the Roadmap Report presented by AHAS, implementing stricter safety laws or, for some states, just implementing basic safety laws would reduce deaths and injuries on our nation’s roads.
States Get Graded on Safety and Traffic Laws
When it comes to safety, AHAS looks at five issues:
- Occupant protection related to seat belt use
- Child passenger safety
- Teen driving
- Impaired driving
- Distracted driving
When it comes to highlighting deficiencies, each state is graded on each of the issues using a color code:
- Green signifies a good rating, noting that a state is adopting new laws backed by AHAS to increase safety
- A yellow rating signifies caution, which notes that while a state is making improvements with new laws, more needs to be done
- And finally, there is red, which notes danger because a state is falling way behind on adopting new safety laws
Starting on page 14 of the report, there is a map that shows the rating for each state on the key issues. Here are some highlights of Colorado’s rating:
- Occupant protection: Colorado is rated red, signifying danger
- Child passenger safety: Colorado is rated red on this as well
- Teen driving safety: Colorado is rated yellow
- Impaired driving and distracted driving: Colorado improves dramatically and is rated green on both issues
What this shows is that Colorado is making some improvements to further traffic safety, but still has a long way to go, especially when it comes to seat belt use and child protection.