CLEVELAND — The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety just released its 2022 Roadmap of State Highway Safety laws report for 2022.
The report rates all 50 states and Washington D.C as green, yellow or red based on 16 optimal traffic safety laws.
Ohio fell dangerously behind in areas of occupant protection, child passenger safety and impaired driving. Many of those areas are secondary offenses, meaning law enforcement officers can’t pull drivers over if they see a violation.
“Seatbelt laws are critically important that it be a primary enforcement law and that it cover all occupants,” said Cathy Chase, president of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “During the pandemic, unfortunately, we have seen a trend of fewer people buckling up. We'd like to see that get turned around.”
The Buckeye state ranked in the bottom 11 states when it comes to passing the top safety laws to reduce traffic crashes and deaths, which have seen a historic rise in the last year.
Ohio received a yellow rating for laws related to teen driving and distracted driving.
“When the laws were first passed in terms of limiting cell phone use while driving or not texting behind the wheel, that they were comprehensive at that time, but they're no longer are,” Chase said.
However, House Bill 283 was introduced in September, hoping to change that by making holding your phone or any other electronic device while driving a primary offense. Last year, a similar proposal from Governor Mike DeWine didn’t make the cut in the state’s transportation bill.
‘“Someone shouldn't have to see another violation happening in order to make a citation or one that honestly could be a life-or-death violation.,” Chase said.
The report comes as Ohio has seen a sharp rise in deaths on the roadways. There were 1,153 fatalities in 2019. Over the last ten years, 10,855 lives have been lost on Ohio’s roads.
The yearly economic cost due to motor vehicle crashes is roughly $10.125 billion.
Across the United States, more than 20,000 people were killed during the first six months of 2021. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that’s the most during the same time since 2006, and the largest spike ever recorded.
“We need to update the laws to keep track of what's happening behind the wheel. Every recommendation in our report is backed by studies and research,” Chase said. “Ohio has some room for improvement. Changes can be made, and they can be made now. We just need our elected officials to step up.
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