Study: R.I. earns high grade for traffic safety

RHODE ISLAND was one of five states to receive a green grade in the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety’s 2023 Roadmap to Safety report released Tuesday. 

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island is one of five states to receive a “green,” or good grade in the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety’s 2023 Roadmap to Safety report released Tuesday. 

The 20th edition of the annual report details 16 optimal traffic safety countermeasures and additional proven solutions to reduce crashes, injuries and deaths in each state and Washington, D.C. 

Each state was graded green for good, yellow for caution and red for danger, based on their progress toward enacting optimal traffic safety laws. The report also identified opportunities for state legislatures to close gaps in laws addressing drunk driving, distracted driving, teen driving, seat belt and child safety seat use, motorcycle helmet use and new this year – automated speed enforcement. 

Louisiana, Maryland, Oregon, and Washington also earned green ratings for showing advancement toward adopting all of the group’s recommended optimal laws: occupant protection, child passenger safety, teen driving, GDL programs, impaired driving, distracted driving and automated enforcement to curb speed.  

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Thirty six states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin, received a yellow rating, indicating improvement is needed because of gaps in the group’s recommended optimal laws. 

Nine states: Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming received a red rating, indicating these states are dangerously behind in adoption of the group’s recommended optimal laws. 

Rhode Island also earned a green rating for its adopted highway laws: primary enforcement front seat belt law, primary enforcement rear seat belt law, rear facing through age 2 or older law, booster seat law, all-offender ignition interlocks, open container law, all-driver text messaging restriction, GDL cellphone restriction, permits automated enforcement by law and automated enforcement in use. In its report, the group recommended highway laws needed in the Ocean State, including an all-rider motorcycle helmet law, rear seat through age 12 Law, minimum ages for learner’s permit and licensing, 70 hours of supervised driving provision, nighttime driving restriction provision and passenger restriction provision.  

Data also showed Rhode Island had a 10-year fatality total of 610, including 67 fatalities in 2021 and $2 billion in annual cost due to motor vehicle crashes. 

Massachusetts was listed in the red danger zone for its adoption of highway laws. The group lauded the Bay State for its all-rider motorcycle helmet law, rear seat through age 12 Law, minimum ages for learner’s permit and licensing, 70 hours of supervised driving provision, nighttime driving restriction provision and passenger restriction provision. However, it recommended that state add primary enforcement front seat belt law, primary enforcement rear seat belt law, rear facing through age 2 or older law, rear seat through age 12 law, minimum ages for learner’s permit and licensing, 70 hours of supervised driving provision, nighttime driving restriction provision, passenger restriction provision, all-offender ignition interlocks, permits automated enforcement by law and automated enforcement in use highway laws. 

Data also showed Massachusetts had a 10-year fatality total of 3,611, including 413 fatalities in 2021 and $7.5 billion in annual cost due to motor vehicle crashes. 

Across the nation, the report found based on the safety recommendations, states need to adopt 494 countermeasures:  

  • 16 states need an optimal primary enforcement seat belt law for front seat passengers.
  • 30 states need an optimal primary enforcement seat belt law for rear seat passengers.
  • 32 states need an optimal all-rider motorcycle helmet law.
  • 32 states need a rear facing through age 2 or older child passenger safety law.
  • 33 states and Washington, D.C., need an optimal booster seat law.
  • 48 states and Washington, D.C., need an optimal rear seat through age 12 law.
  • 192 GDL laws need to be adopted to ensure the safety of novice drivers, no state meets. all the criteria recommended in this report.
  • 27 critical impaired driving laws are needed in 26 states.
  • 4 states need an optimal all-driver text messaging restriction.
  • 19 states need a GDL cellphone restriction.
  • 27 states need to permit automated enforcement by law.
  • 32 states do not have automated enforcement in use.

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