Our Maine car accident lawyers understand the recently-released national report on auto safety highlights legislative shortcomings, according to Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
The state was given a mid-level "yellow light" rating, meaning that we still have a long way to go in terms of passing laws that will be effective in preventing serious injury and deaths in traffic crashes.
In 2011, we lost nearly 140 lives on our roadways, with a total of 1,768 fatalities in the last 10 years. In addition to the enormous emotional and losses suffered by the families of those deceased, motor vehicle crashes on the whole cost taxpayers some $915 million each year, when you factor in emergency services, lost wages, hospitalization, workers' compensation and disability benefits.
The sad fact is, unless we were to outlaw driving altogether, we as a society will probably never be completely free from negligent and irresponsible motorists. However, this does not mean we can't do more to improve our odds.
The 2013 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws outlines a list of 15 initiatives backed by a multi-billion dollar federal transportation bill signed last year. That means federal money is given to those states who take action. Some of these initiatives include:
- Primary seat belt enforcement laws;
- All-rider motorcycle helmet laws;
- Child booster seat laws;
- Extensive graduated driver's licensing programs, with provisions for tighter restrictions of cell phones by underage drivers;
- Expansion of ignition interlock programs geared toward convicted drunk drivers;
- Addition of child endangerment laws for impaired drivers whose offense occurred with a minor in the vehicle;
- Mandatory BAC testing for all drivers involved in fatal crashes;
- Texting restrictions for drivers.
In looking just at Maine, researchers found we lack an all-rider motorcycle helmet law and GDL laws that would bump up the minimum driving age to 16, restrict nighttime driving and hold off on unrestricted license for drivers until they turn 18.
Additionally, we need to seriously consider an ignition interlock law that would be mandated for all motorists convicted for driving impaired - not just those who got caught more than once.
With regard to the ignition interlocks, we're not alone. Only 17 states have enacted such provisions for first-time DUI offenders. This is again despite the availability of federal funding to do so.
Part of the problem is that some people tend to hold onto this notion that first-time offenders are merely social drinkers who slipped up. But consider this tidbit from Mothers Against Drunk Driving: Research has shown that the average DUI offender has driven drunk nearly 90 times before they are caught.
What's more, a 2009 study found that nearly 90 percent of those surveyed in a nationwide poll answered that mandatory ignition interlock devices are a good way to address the issue of drunk driving. It's not so much about punishing a person, as much as it is ensuring the rest of us are protected from their recklessness - of which they have proven amply capable by virtue of their conviction.
Our Maine personal injury lawyers would encourage anyone reading this to contact your state legislators and urge them to take decisive action on these issues.
Bangor car accident victims may contact our personal injury lawyers at 1-800-490-5218.
2013 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws, January 2013, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Saferoads.org
More Blog Entries:
NHTSA Touts Decrease in Traffic Fatalities as a Win, But Are We Really any Safer?, Dec. 31, 2012, Bangor Personal Injury Lawyer Blog