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Utah given middling ranking for traffic safety laws

Published January 22, 2014 5:57 pm

Advocacy group • Says Utah passed 8 of 15 'lifesaving laws.'
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When it comes to passing traffic safety laws, Utah is in the middle of the road among the 50 states, according to a report card released Wednesday by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, an alliance of insurance companies and consumer, health and safety groups.

Utah has passed eight of what the group calls 15 key "lifesaving laws." Nineteen state have passed fewer than that, and 24 states have passed more, according to the report card.

No state has enacted all 15. The most passed by any state is 12, in Illinois, New York and Oregon. South Dakota has passed the fewest, only two.

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

The group also called on Utah to pass a law requiring use of helmets by motorcycle riders.

It also seeks several changes in graduated driving licenses for teens — including a strong nighttime driving restriction; limiting how many teen passengers are allowed without adult supervision; requiring teens to reach age 16 before obtaining a learner's permit; and requiring reaching age 18 for an unrestricted license.

The group noted that in 2013, merely eight states passed just 10 new laws pushed by the group — but Utah was among them. It adopted HB103 by Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, to ban phone use by drivers younger than 18.

"After six consecutive years of declining fatalities on our nation's roads, traffic deaths increased in 2012 to 33,561 fatalities," Jacqueline S. Gillan, president of the group, said. "This alarming shift is a stark reminder that states must continue to pass and enforce strong, comprehensive highway safety laws."