The progress of all 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC) toward enacting 16 fundamental traffic safety laws has been unveiled in a new report released by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates).

The 2019 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws is intended as a guidebook for action as legislative sessions commence throughout the country. Advocates say that if every state enacted just one law this session, substantial progress would be achieved at closing the more than 400 gaps in current laws.

“The theme of this year’s report is ‘until the day comes when driverless cars are proven to be safe, we can save countless lives by taking action now on verified technology and comprehensive laws.’ Since Advocates’ founding in 1989, we have been promoting vehicle safety technologies backed by evidence to reduce crashes and save lives,” said President Cathy Chase. “While we are optimistic that automated systems, or ‘driverless’ vehicles, may have the potential to reduce, or even eliminate, crashes in the future, that utopic vision is still likely decades away. If we don’t change the status quo until driverless cars are ubiquitous, motor vehicle crashes will kill hundreds of thousands of people, injure millions more and cost our society billions of dollars.”

Janette Fennell, President and Founder of and Consumer Co-Chair of Advocates, says there has been a great deal of focus on how driverless cars of the future can remedy the issues plaguing roadways, such as impairment, distracted driving and excessive speeding.

“However, the realization of that potential is a long way off,” she said. “And, when we reach the time when driverless cars are on the roads with traditional cars, tried and true protections like seat belts, motorcycle helmets and child safety seats will remain incredibly important. This is why it is imperative that states take action now on implementing these basic safeguards.”

Advocates’ report gives every state and DC a rating in five categories (Occupant Protection, Child Passenger Safety, Teen Driving, Impaired Driving, and Distracted Driving) as well as an overall grade of: Green (Good); Yellow (Caution); and Red (Danger). States with a green rating include Rhode Island, Delaware, Oregon, Washington, California, Louisiana, and the District of Columbia. Thirty-three states received a yellow rating indicating that improvement is needed. States with a red rating are deemed to lag seriously behind when it comes to adopting Advocates’ recommended laws. South Dakota has enacted the fewest laws, having adopted just two of 16. Other states with a red rating include Wyoming, Arizona, Missouri, Montana, Florida, Ohio, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Vermont and Virginia.

The report shows that 406 laws are needed for all states to meet Advocates’ optimal recommendations. Additionally, no state has all 16 recommended laws.

View the report.