State Legislative Program

 

Using government and private research, crash data, and states’ experience, Advocates has determined the following traffic safety laws to be priorities in reducing motor vehicle deaths and injuries. These are the definitions with which we rate each state in our annual report, The Roadmap to State Highway Safety Laws.  Please note that Advocates gives no credit for any law that is subject to secondary enforcement.

Map Current as of December 2012. 
 
 
Primary Enforcement Seat Belt Law ‑ Allows law enforcement officers to stop and ticket someone when they see a violation of the seat belt law. No other violation need occur first to take action.
 
All-Rider Motorcycle Helmet Law ‑ Requires all motorcycle riders, regardless of age, to use a helmet that meets U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) standards.

setUpdates from the last year:

Hawaii and West Viginia now have primary enforcement

Rhode Island maintained primary enforcement by removing the sunset provision of the law

 

 
Booster Seat Law ‑ Requires, at a minimum, that children ages four through seven be placed in a child restraint system (booster seat) that is certified to meet U.S. DOT safety standards.
 
 
Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) systems allow teenagers to learn to drive under lower risk conditions and consist of a learner's stage, an intermediate stage and an unrestricted driving stage. The learner’s stage requires teenage drivers to complete a minimum number of months of adult-supervised driving in order to obtain a full license. The intermediate stage restricts teens from driving in high-risk situations for a specified period of time before receiving a full license. Advocates rates states on seven GDL component laws:
 
Learner’s Stage: Minimum Age16 for Learner’s Permit - A beginning teen driver is prohibited from obtaining a learner’s permit until the age of 16.
 
Learner’s Stage: Six-Month Holding Period Provision ‑ A beginning teen driver must be supervised by an adult licensed driver at all times during the learner’s stage. If the learner remains citation-free for six months, he or she may progress to the intermediate stage.
 
Learner’s Stage: 30-50 Hours of Supervised Driving Provision ‑ A beginning teen driver must receive at least 30-50 hours of behind-the-wheel training with an adult licensed driver during the learner’s stage.
 
Intermediate Stage: Nighttime Driving Restriction Provision ‑ Unsupervised driving should be prohibited from at least 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
 
Intermediate Stage: Passenger Restriction Provision ‑ This provision limits the number of teenage passengers who may legally ride with a teen driver without adult supervision. The optimal limit is no more than one non-familial passenger under age 21.
 
Cell Phone Restriction ‑ This restriction prohibits all use of cellular devices (both hand-held and hands-free) by beginning teen drivers, except in the case of an emergency.
 
Age 18 for Unrestricted License - A teen driver is prohibited from obtaining an unrestricted license until the age of 18.

Updates from the past year:

Maryland cell phone ban for GDL holders now has primary enforcement

Utah now has a cell phone ban for GDL holders

 
Ignition Interlock Devices (IID) ‑ This law mandates the installation of ignition interlock devices on the vehicles of all drunk driving offenders.
 
Child Endangerment ‑ This law creates a separate offense or enhances an existing penalty for an impaired driving offender who endangers a minor.
 
Mandatory Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Testing for Drivers Killed and Surviving Drivers ‑ These separate statutes require any driver who is killed, or who survives a crash in which there is a fatality, to have his or her BAC tested.
 
Open Container ‑ This law prohibits open containers of alcohol in the passenger area of a motor vehicle. To comply with federal requirements, the law must: prohibit both possession of any open alcoholic beverage container and the consumption of alcohol from an open container; apply to the entire passenger area of any motor vehicle; apply to all vehicle occupants except for passengers of buses, taxi cabs, limousines or persons in the living quarters of motor homes; apply to vehicles on the shoulder of public highways; and, require primary enforcement of the law.

Updates from the last year:

Tennessee and Maine enacted all-offender ignition interlock laws 

 
All-Driver Text Messaging Restriction ‑ This law prohibits all drivers from entering, reading or otherwise retrieving data from any handheld or electronic data communication device, except in the case of an emergency.

Updates from the last year:

Hawaii and West Viginia now have primary enforcement

Rhode Island maintained primary enforcement by removing the sunset provision of the law

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