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Utah given low ranking for traffic safety laws

Published January 15, 2013 12:36 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Only 10 states receive a lower grade than Utah in a new report card on traffic safety laws released Tuesday by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, an alliance of insurance companies and consumer, health and safety groups.

It rates states according to how many of what it calls 15 "lifesaving laws" each has passed. Utah has enacted eight. Only 10 states have enacted fewer.

No state has enacted all 15. New York has enacted the most, 13,. South Dakota has the fewest, only three.

The group called on Utah to pass such laws as requiring all motorcycle riders to wear helmets. Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, has said he will push such a bill this year, but motorcycle groups are vowing a fight.

Advocates also urge Utah to pass a law to allow police to stop and ticket drivers when they see a violation of seat-belt laws for front-seat occupants. Currently, police may issue such tickets only as a "secondary" offense after pulling over motorists for other violations.

The group also seeks several changes in graduated driving licenses for teens, including requiring teens to reach age 16 before obtaining a learning permit; requiring reaching age 18 for an unrestricted license; toughening restrictions on night driving and cell phone use; and limiting how many teen passengers are allowed without adult supervision.

The group praised Utah for previously passing such laws as requiring booster seats for children; several tough laws on drinking and driving; banning texting while driving; and requiring some adult-supervised driving for new teen drivers.

Jacqueline S. Gillan, president of Advocates, said the laws it promotes save lives, cut medical costs and help states qualify for federal incentive grants.

"This is a win for motorists, for state budgets and for taxpayers," she said.