Indiana in the Top 10
You can assign rankings to just about anything — top ten places to retire, top ten basketball teams, top ten beaches, top ten polluted cities. Sometimes being in the Top Ten is a coveted position; other times it’s something one would wish to avoid.
Here’s a Top Ten ranking that we’re pleased to see: A new report from Advocates for Auto and Highway Safety includes Indiana as one of the top ten states which have passed laws to decrease the number of injuries and fatalities on the road.
This is the twelfth year the group has issued an annual report, and the focus of this one is “lethal loopholes” — that is, examining what laws have been passed and what laws haven’t been but should be in order to reduce the number of preventable deaths and injuries.
In 2013, 32,719 were killed in U.S. motor vehicle accidents (783 were in Indiana), and 2.3 million were injured, so highway safety must be made a priority.
What is Indiana doing right?
- Primary enforcement of seat belt laws for front and rear occupants
- Requirement that beginning teen drivers must be supervised at all times during the learner’s stage
- Requirement that teens must have 30-50 hours of supervised driving in the learner’s stage
- Limiting the number of underage passengers who can ride with a teen driver
- Prohibition against use of cell phones by beginning drivers
- Prohibition against sending, receiving or reading text messages by drivers of all ages
- Requirement that a teen’s driver’s license include restrictions relating to night driving and passengers, until age 18
- Requirement that booster seats be used with children ages 4 through 7
- Prohibition against open containers of alcohol anywhere within the passenger area of a vehicle
- Enhancement from a misdemeanor to a felony if an impaired driver has a minor in the vehicle.
What “lethal loopholes” still remain in Indiana law?
- Motorcycle helmet law. Indiana is one of 31 states that do not require helmets for everyone on a motorcycle, although we do require them for those younger than 18. They estimate that 46 lives could have been saved in 2012 if helmets were required of all riders.
- Ignition interlock for DUI offenders. Indiana is not one of the 24 states that require DUI offenders to blow into a device to gauge possible alcohol consumption; if they’re over a certain limit, the car won’t start. With an average of 28 fatalities per day in the U.S. being caused by a drunk driver, proponents of ignition interlock systems believe strong steps must be taken to save innocent lives.
The 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly began on January 6. Hundreds of issues will be debated — from casino gambling to medical marijuana; from gay marriage to free textboooks. There are sure to be a few relating to highway safety in there somewhere. Stay tuned.