Safety and OSHA News

Report: 6 best and 13 worst states for highway safety laws

More than 37,000 people were killed in traffic crashes in the U.S. in 2016. A safety group has ranked states by the number of laws they’ve passed to reduce that number. 

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety credited six states – California, Delaware, Louisiana, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington – with having the most protective road safety laws. (Washington, DC, also got a top rating.)

The group made its rankings using 16 highway and driving laws the group considers most important in preventing injuries and deaths on roads, including seat belt, motorcycle helmet, and impaired and distracted driving.

Rhode Island has enacted the most: 13. Delaware, Oregon and Washington tie for second with 11.

The 13 states at the bottom: Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming.

Only five states have helmet requirements for all motorcycle riders and primary front and rear seat belt laws. Primary seat belt laws allow police to issue tickets without finding other violations.

More than one in every four crash deaths involves a drunk driver. But only 20 states have laws requiring: ignition interlock devices for all offenders, increased penalties for drunk drivers transporting children and comprehensive open container prohibitions.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety recommends the following number of states need to adopt these measures:

  • 16: primary enforcement seat belt law for front seat passengers
  • 31: primary enforcement seat belt law for rear seat passengers
  • 31: all-rider motorcycle helmet law
  • 41 and DC: rear-facing child safety seat through age 2 law
  • 35 and DC: an optimal booster seat law
  • 30: critical impaired driving laws
  • 7: all-driver text messaging restriction, and
  • 19 and DC: graduated driver licensing cell phone restriction.

The group also calls for emerging technologies to be included as standard equipment in all vehicles, including automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and rear seat belt reminders.

It’s common for people to be more scared of flying in a commercial aircraft than getting into a car. But here’s an interesting comparison from the group: The U.S. is approaching nine years without a single person killed in a commercial aviation crash, yet someone dies in a motor vehicle crash every 15 minutes.

Print Friendly

Subscribe Today

Get the latest and greatest safety news and insights delivered to your inbox.


  1. I am glad I don’t have kids anymore. It was great when I was a kid to ride in the car in a canvas seat with a steering wheel hooked over the front seat back and able to see out the front window. “Do gooders” ruin everything. It was bad enough when I had young kids in the 70s now it has to be miserable for kids to ride in the car.

  2. Ohio, where I’m from, does have seatbelt laws , no texting, talking on the phone( must be on bluetooth), car seats for children facing back for the first year, booster seats for under 4′ tall, DUI Screen stops. Speed camera lights. They will pull you over for 5 miles over the speed limit. Ohio has a reputation for enforcing the driving laws. We call it ” Welcome to Ohio”! So, what makes Ohio unsafe?

Speak Your Mind