Texas Ranked Among Worst States to Enact Basic Traffic Safety Laws

Failure to pass laws may contribute to an increase in accidents and fatalities

In the wake of distracted driving behaviors like texting while driving tied to an increase in motor vehicle accidents, it's more important than ever for legislatures everywhere to enact laws and regulations that help keep drivers and passengers safe on the roadways.

However, according to a recent report entitled "The Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws" released by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Texas is listed as one of the worst states for passing basic traffic safety laws.

Specifically, the report examined the traffic laws of each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia and looked at how many of the 15 traffic safety laws recommended by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety were passed and implemented. A few of the 15 basic laws include: seat belt regulations, motorcycle helmet laws, and texting while driving bans.

The state of Texas ranked near the bottom as one of the states yet to implement many of these recommended laws. And, according to the Texas Department of Transportation, Texas' failure to do so could be why the state has had at least one auto accident fatality happen every single day since November 7, 2000.

The state's failure to enact important traffic safety laws-particularly those that address public problems like texting while driving-is seemingly common. In 2011, Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a texting while driving ban even though many other states were realizing the dangers of such activities and passing laws to combat accidents resulting from texting behind the wheel. Today, Texas is one of few states that have yet to pass some form of texting while driving laws.

Along with failing to pass important laws to keep drivers and passengers safe, some argue that the state's decision to implement the first 85 mph speed limit on some Texas interstates in 2012 contributes to the auto accident fatality rates.

Bill sponsor Rep. Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham, Texas, as well as other advocates say that the measure was passed to help save time for commuting drivers. Opponents argue, however, that the decision only increases auto accidents and jeopardize the safety of drivers and passengers.

Hoping to encourage more states like Texas to enact more traffic safety regulations such as ignition interlock device requirements, distracted driving laws and occupant protection regulations, a new federal incentive grant program is expected to be announced.