Yesterday, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) released the 19th annual edition of the Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws (Report), an essential and effective safety action plan for state legislatures, governors and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to address the epidemic of motor vehicle crash deaths. Sadly, despite miles traveled being lower, preliminary reports from the first half of 2021 indicate an increase in roadway fatalities.
The Report ranks the best and worst states for auto safety laws in place. Advocates’ Roadmap Report ranks each state in five categories (Occupant Protection, Child Passenger Safety, Teen Driving, Impaired Driving, and Distracted Driving). Each state also receives an overall grade of “green,” “yellow,” or “red,” reflecting each state’s progress, or lack thereof, toward enactment of 16 lifesaving traffic safety laws.
Missouri, receiving a “red” grade with only 3 of the 16 safety laws in place, has ranked last in the nation making it one of the most dangerous states for drivers and passengers.
What laws are missing in Missouri? Front and rear primary seat belt laws, rear facing car seats required through age 2 law, booster seat law, open alcohol container laws, text messaging restrictions for all ages and Graduated Driver’s Licensing laws to name a few.
The child passenger safety laws in Missouri are seriously lacking. Ensuring that children of all ages, especially very young children who cannot protect themselves, are properly restrained and safe on every car ride should be a major priority in the state in 2022. Children’s lives depend on it.
Kids and Car Safety’s Director, Amber Rollins said, “Most people are really surprised to learn that motor vehicle related accidents are the number one killer of children in our country. The good news is that most of these tragedies are preventable. We have a significant and incredible opportunity to make real change by implementing policies that other states have proven save precious little lives. All sixteen of the safety policies tracked in Advocates’ Report impact the safety and wellbeing of our children. The time to act is now.”
Missouri and Montana are the only two states that do not have an “all text ban” for all drivers. Current law only prohibits drivers 21 and under from texting while driving. However, approximately 70 percent of cell phone-related crashes in the Missouri involve drivers who are 22 or older.
State Farm, Kids and Car Safety, and the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety have been longtime proponents for stricter safety policies, such as Graduated Driver’s Licensing, helmet laws, and child passenger and teen driver safety laws to keep our children and teens safer on the roads. In a recent study conducted by State Farm, 9 out of 10 teen drivers reported they engaged in at least one smartphone behavior while driving.
While these findings and reports are alarming, Missouri has a significant opportunity to make a huge difference in the lives of all Missourians. These policies are low hanging fruit when it comes to making real, life-saving change happen.