Despite fewer drivers on the road, traffic deaths up: study

Morning In America

(NewsNation Now) — Despite fewer people driving during the pandemic, the number of people dying in traffic-related accidents went up in 2020, according to a recent study.

That’s the most recent year data is available and up 7% from the year before.

According to the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, there’s a direct link between those fatalities and state safety laws.

To make its point, the group put out a color-coded map.

On the map, the entire West Coast is green, signaling they made the cut, as did Louisiana, Mississippi, New York and DC.

Yellow means caution, or needs improvement, and 31 states fall into this category.

Red, meanwhile, stands for danger and there are 11 states in the red.

Digging deeper, green states have approved at least 11 of the 16 road safety laws pushed by advocates — including two must-haves:

  • The ability for police to pull over a car for anyone not wearing a seatbelt — whether in the front seat or the back.
  • And a requirement that motorcycle riders wear a helmet.

States rated red have one or none of those laws on the books and they have six or fewer measures advocates contend save lives.

Nearly half the country falls into that category. But Florida, according to the criteria, is the least safe.

In Florida, you can get a learner’s permit at 15 years old and a driver’s license at 16. Safety advocates say it’s better to bump those ages up to 16 for a learner’s permit and 18 for a full permit.

Florida has a rear seatbelt safety law, but drivers can’t be pulled over if that’s their only violation.

Unlike other states, Florida’s crackdown on distracted driving, however, doesn’t completely ban talking on your phone at the wheel.

And in Florida, you can ride a motorcycle with your hair blowing in the breeze as helmets are not required in the Sunshine State despite critics saying they should be.

Florida had nearly 3,200 road deaths in 2019, but that’s just the human cost. Road safety advocates say there’s also a financial toll.

Property damage, lost productivity and medical bills from car crashes add up to $292 billion a year nationwide.

That works out to $877 per taxpayer.

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