Traffic accidents are so common that many people dismiss them as a necessary cost of motor vehicle travel. Thankfully, however, there are groups out there who understand that small changes can make a big difference. As such, they work diligently to track accident data and to make safety recommendations based on what they discover.
Each year for nearly two decades, a group called Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety has released a report known as the Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws. The report identifies the biggest traffic safety issues and rates states based on how well they are addressing those issues. New York was well reviewed in the report, but there is still considerable work to be done.
In the 2021 report, New York was one of only a handful of states to earn a green-coded rating. This means that the state has adopted most of the critical laws and regulations identified by the organization as being the most effective at reducing traffic injuries and deaths.
Most of the recommendations have to do with passage and enforcement of laws related to seat belts, drunk driving, distracted driving and child safety. Of the three laws identified for improvement, two were related to graduated driver licensing policies and the third was a booster seat law.
While New York’s status in this report is something to be proud of, laws alone are not enough. In fact, the report details the human and financial costs associated with traffic accidents – many of which are preventable. In 2019, for instance, 931 people lost their lives in car crashes on New York roads. And each year, traffic accidents result in 15.246 billion dollars in economic losses.
There are also a number of federal laws and regulations (targeted in the report) that have a direct impact on states like New York. Interstate trucking is a good example. So much truck traffic rolls through New York each year that we are undoubtedly impacted by the regulations (or lack of regulations) in the trucking industry.
Hopefully, reports like this will be a constant reminder to legislators and policymakers that the work they are doing has the power to save lives. For the rest of us, they are a reminder that driving still remains a major hazard, and that our own actions behind the wheel can make a significant difference.