NTSB Updates Stats on Adoption of Recommended State Transportation Safety Improvements

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) today updated the status of its list of most wanted safety improvements that state governments can make. The list includes requiring booster seats for young children, primary seat belt laws, graduated licensing laws for young drivers, hard core drinking driver program elements, cell phone use restrictions for young drivers and passenger restriction laws for teen drivers. The NTSB also added a new issue area they’re now tracking: motorcycle safety and helmet laws. While a handful of states have made significant progress in adopting laws in all these areas, many states have not yet adopted them despite their proven ability to save lives, the NTSB reported.

Here is how each safety improvement breaks down:

Child Booster Seat Laws

  • 29 states have the NTSB-recommended booster seat laws up to age 8.
  • 18 states have partial booster seat laws
  • 3 states (Arizona, Florida and South Dakota) have no booster seat law.

See also: Governors Highway Safety Association

Primary Seat Belt Enforcement Laws (allowing law enforcement officers to ticket a driver for not wearing a seat belt, without any other traffic offense taking place).

  • 17 states have primary enforcement laws for all seating positions in the vehicle.
  • 14 states have primary enforcement laws for the front seat only.
  • According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, maximum fines for first offenses under these laws range from $5 (Kansas) to $250 (U.S. Virgin Islands).
  • 19 states have no law.
  • 18 states have secondary enforcement laws.

Graduated Licensing Laws(which use a three-stage system to allow young drivers to safely gain driving experience before obtaining full driving privileges).

  • 46 states have a graduated license system that meets the NTSB’s recommendation.
  • 3 states have a partial three-stage system that does not meet the recommendation.
  • 1 state (North Dakota) has no three-stage system.

See also: Governors Highway Safety Association

Hard Core Drinking Driving Actions

  • The NTSB recommends 11 elements for an effective anti-drinking and driving program including:

    • statewide sobriety checkpoints;
    • programs to identify individuals driving on a suspended or revoked license;
    • defining a repeat offender as anyone arrested on a DWI offense within 10 years of a prior DWI arrest;
    • imposing tougher penalties, assessment and treatment for DWI offenders arrested with a blood alcohol content level of 0.15 or higher;
    • using administrative license revocation;
    • prohibiting plea bargaining;
    • prohibiting diversion programs;
    • establishing court-based sanction programs;
    • using vehicle sanctions including ignition interlock devices and vehicle impoundment;
    • implementing alternatives to jail confinement such as home detention with electronic monitoring; and
    • requiring DWI offenders to maintain a zero blood alcohol content level.
  • 6 states have made sufficient progress in developing a program with 8 of the 11 program elements.
  • 21 states are 1 or 2 program elements short of the sufficient level.
  • 23 states still need 3 or more program elements.

See also: Governors Highway Safety Association

Interactive Wireless Communication Device (Cell Phone) Use Restrictions for Young Drivers

  • 26 states have laws prohibiting the use of cell phones or other mobile communication devices for holders of learner’s permits and intermediate licenses.
  • 5 states have a partial restriction. The District of Columbia prohibits holders of learner’s permits from using cell phones. Texas and Virginia prohibit holders of intermediate licenses from using cell phones. Oklahoma prohibits hand-held use for holders of learner’s permits and intermediate licenses.
  • 19 states have no restriction.

See also: Governors Highway Safety Association

Passenger Restriction Laws for Teen Drivers (Restricting young, novice drivers with provisional (intermediate) licenses, unless accompanied by a supervising adult driver who is at least 21 years old, from carrying more than one passenger under the age of 20 until they receive an unrestricted license or for at least 6 months).

  • 28 states have a passenger restriction that meets the NTSB recommendation.
  • 15 states have a restriction that does not meet the recommendation.
  • 7 states have no restriction.

Of these automobile-related categories, six states have had the most success in implementing laws in all areas: Delaware, Indiana, Maine, North Carolina and Oregon. Those states fell short only in the number of hard core drinking driving program elements adopted. Five states could be considered at or near the bottom in terms of recommendation adoption: Arizona, Florida, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. North Dakota only partially met the NTSB recommendations in just two areas.

The NTSB also added data on another category this year:

State Motorcycle Helmet Laws

  • 13 states have a universal helmet law.
  • 7 states have a universal law that does not specify the federal motor vehicle safety standard on motorcycle helmets.
  • 27 states have a partial law.
  • 3 states have no law.

See also: Governors Highway Safety Association

Clicking on any of the topic headers above will take you to a color-coded NTSB map showing where all the states stand in adopting the recommended laws for that category. The Governors Highway Safety Association website also has 50-state charts for these and other state highway safety laws.