The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety recently released its 2017 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws. The roadmap found that the number of highway fatalities rose in both 2014 and 2015. The 2017 report urges motorists to remember what saves lives. It advocates for legislatures across our nation to fill in the blanks on missing traffic laws that could save lives.
What does the report say about New York?
According to the report, New York had 1,121 highway fatalities in 2015 and a 10-year fatality total of 13,503. New York had the sixth highest fatality totals in the nation on both counts. The economic cost every year in New York from motor vehicle crashes is $15.246 billion, third highest in the nation.
The report recommends new legislation for each state; for New York, it recommends:
1. Primary Enforcement Seat Belt Law (Rear)
What is it?
This proposed legislation would require all people in a vehicle to wear their seat belts. It would allow law enforcement to pull over drivers and ticket them for any unbuckled passengers.
What law do we have currently?
Currently, New York has a primary enforcement seat belt law for front seat passengers. (Primary enforcement laws allow officers to pull over and ticket drivers for infractions of that law. Secondary laws require officers to pull drivers over for another infraction, e.g., speeding.)
How would expanding the primary enforcement seat belt law help traffic safety?
While New York’s primary enforcement law has helped to keep New Yorkers safe, it only requires people in the front seat of a vehicle to wear their seat belts.
The report advocates the enactment of legislation that would require all people in a vehicle to wear their seat belts. This legislation could save countless lives. After all, rear seat passengers are three times more likely to be killed in a crash if they are not wearing a seat belt, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
2. Booster Seat Law Up to Age 8 and 57 Inches
What is the recommendation?
This proposed legislation would require all children who have outgrown a forward-facing safety seat to use an approved booster seat and be properly belted in with a lap and shoulder belt, until the child is eight years old and at least 57 inches tall.
What law do we have currently?
New York law requires all passengers under the age of eight be restrained in a child restraint system. The law does not mention height.
How would it help traffic safety?
Not all children grow at the same speed. Not taking a child’s height into account can place children in seats that are not safe for them. Adult safety belts simply do not fit young children properly. As such, the seat belts do not protect the children as they should, and can also cause serious neck and abdominal injuries. Booster seats raise the children higher in the seat, improving the fit and effectiveness of the seat belt.
3. Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) - Stronger Cell Phone Restriction and Age 18 for Unrestricted License
What would the new law do?
The proposed cell phone legislation would prohibit all use of cellular devices by beginning teen drivers, except in emergencies. The proposed age 18 license legislation would prohibit teenagers from having unrestricted driver’s licenses until age of 18. It would continue the nighttime or passenger restrictions, or both, until the driver is 18 years old.
What do we have currently?
Although New York does have some good laws protecting teen drivers, the report urges New York to do more. Our laws currently entail:
- Age 16 as the minimum age for a learner’s permit,
- Minimum holding period,
- Supervised driving requirement,
- Nighttime restriction, and
- Passenger restriction.
How would new graduated driving laws help traffic safety?
Motor vehicle accidents are the number one killer of American teenagers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These laws would ensure that teens stay off their phones and limit passengers and the time of day teens can drive decreasing the amount of accidents caused by distracted and fatigued driving.
To learn more about traffic safety and laws that might affect you, check out our blog.