A new report from the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) finds that the two states that do the best job of promoting roadway safety through the use of traffic laws are Washington and Oregon.
Four other states, Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, are also taking the lead in roadway safety improvements, the report said, while the five states that received the lowest scores in the report, “2010 ENA National Scorecard on State Roadway Laws: A Blueprint for Injury Prevention,” were Arizona, Idaho, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota, each of which met less than half of the criteria the report details.
The ENA’s Scorecard ranks the states based on types of legislation that address such things as:
- seat belt use
- child passenger safety
- graduated driver licensing for teens
- motorcycle helmet requirements
- ignition interlock devices
- texting and general cell phone usage while driving
- the authority to maintain and evaluate a state trauma system
Each state received one point for each type of legislation. Washington and Oregon each scored 14, and were the only states to do so for the second consecutive time.
Even the states that didn’t rank well still learned something from the last report, in 2008, however. 38 states showed improvement. Twelve states (Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Virginia) showed no progress since 2008, but only North Dakota has shown no progress since the original Scorecard was released in 2006, while the state showing the most improvement was Minnesota which increased it’s score from 5 in 2008 to 11 in this year’s report. Arkansas also showed improvement, increasing it’s tally from 3 to 8.
ENA President Diana Gurney spoke to the press about the Scorecard, and the need to improve roadway safety, explaining, “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 12 minutes, someone dies in a car crash on U.S. roads and every ten seconds, someone is injured, taken to and treated in an emergency department for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle crash. We know that many of those injuries and deaths are preventable through roadways laws and enforcement and we need policy makers to join us in supporting and passing laws that can save lives. Across the country, emergency department nurses, who treat the victims of motor vehicle crashes every day, are urging their policy makers to pass and enact more and better roadway safety laws.”
The 2010 report added distracted driving laws to the criteria for the first time, noting that 26 states and Washington, D.C. all have passed or enacted primary-enforcement laws that apply to “entering, sending, reading or otherwise retrieving data, except in the case of an emergency, for all drivers using interactive wireless communication devices.” Data from the National Highway Safety and Transportation Administration shows that 5,474 people died in crashes related to driver-distraction in 2009, in which 18 percent of the fatalities were some how linked to cell phone use.
Gurney also spoke about the need for trauma centers, “Timely and appropriate care can be the crucial difference in whether a crash victim survives or dies. While most of us can choose where to seek primary care, victims of motor vehicle crashes are transported to the closest health facility, which may or may not be able to treat their injuries. We would like to see every state establish a trauma system that ensures that anyone injured in a crash is taken to a trauma center that can provide the type of care and the level of care they need.”
The 2010 ENA National Scorecard shows that 47 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation that will allow them to develop and maintain statewide trauma systems.
The full report is available online at ENA.org.