Traffic Safety Trends | State Legislative Action 2017

Amanda Essex, Douglas Shinkle, Amanda Miller and Kevin Pula 6/28/2018

Introduction

Cover of the 2017 Traffic Safety ReportMore than 37,000 people died on U.S. roadways in 2016. The total, 37,461, represents a 5.6 percent increase from 35,485 fatalities in 2015. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatalities related to distracted and drowsy driving declined, while deaths related to other behaviors such as speeding, alcohol impairment and not wearing seat belts increased.

The number of passenger vehicle occupant and motorcyclist fatalities reached their highest levels since 2008, and bicyclist and pedestrian deaths continued a worrying rise, reaching levels not seen in nearly 30 years. Injury estimates are not available for 2016, thus no injury estimates will be presented in this publication. For more information about injury estimates, read Crash Report Sampling System (CRSS) Replaces the National Automotive Sampling System (NASS) General Estimates System (GES) at the end of this publication.

AAA’s 2016 Traffic Safety Culture Index shows that nearly everyone in America is affected by traffic crashes. Nearly one in three drivers has had a friend or relative seriously injured or killed in a motor vehicle crash. Almost 20 percent of drivers have been involved in a serious crash at some point in their lives and over 10 percent of drivers have been seriously injured in a crash.

According to AAA’s index, 81.9 percent of drivers are very concerned about roadway safety but only 60.2 percent believe their state government is similarly concerned. However, traffic safety is a costly, personal and important public health issue for many people, including state legislators. 

In 2017, state legislators debated nearly 2,000 traffic safety bills. Issues examined in this report include:

  • Occupant protection.
  • Child passenger protection.
  • Impaired driving.
  • Drugged driving.
  • Distracted driving.
  • Teen Drivers.
  • Older drivers.
  • Drivers Licensing
  • Speeding and Speed Limits.
  • Aggressive Drivers
  • Automated enforcement.
  • Motorcycle safety.
  • School bus safety.
  • Pedestrian and bicyclist safety.
  • Slow and medium speed vehicles.

Tables and charts detailing state traffic safety laws are included, as are contacts and links for further information (Appendix A contains National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regional office contact information). All bills discussed in this report can be found in the NCSL - NHTSA Traffic Safety Legislative Tracking Database.

Cost Calculator Tool

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides an innovative web tool for state policymakers called “Motor Vehicle Prioritizing Interventions and Cost Calculator for States” (MV PICCS). A newly updated MV PICCS was released in early February of 2018 and enables easy access to CDC’s intervention fact sheets and a completely new user-friendly interface. It reviews the costs and benefits of different statewide traffic safety interventions, allowing the user to select the following countermeasures:

  • Automated Red-Light Enforcement.
  • Automated Speed-Camera Enforcement.
  • Alcohol Interlocks.
  • Sobriety Checkpoints.
  • Saturation Patrols.
  • Bicycle Helmet Laws for Children.
  • Universal Motorcycle Helmet Laws.;
  • Primary Enforcement of Seat Belt Laws.
  • High-Visibility Enforcement for Seat Belts and Child Restraint and Booster Laws.
  • License Plate Impoundment.
  • Limits on Diversion and Plea Agreements.
  • Vehicle Impoundment.
  • In-Person License Renewal.
  • Increased Fines for Seat Belt Use.

The tool calculates the expected number and monetized value of injuries prevented and lives saved by instituting a selected countermeasure. The tool can adjust to state-specific information, assess the potential revenue to the state from fines and fees and analyze a combination of policies to find the most cost-effective way to spend limited dollars on traffic safety.

 

 

Federal Traffic Safety Update

Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2015. The FAST Act is a five-year bill that provides authority and funding for federal surface transportation programs and approved $305 billion for surface transportation programs through 2020.

The FAST Act includes highway safety provisions in Title IV, which provides grants to states to advance a number of traffic safety-related programs if they adopt, or have adopted, certain provisions. Grants are available for programs that involve occupant protection, traffic data systems improvements, impaired driving, distracted driving, motorcyclist safety, bike and pedestrian safety, and graduated driver’s licenses. For more information about grants available in the FAST Act, please see NHTSA’s Highway Safety Grant Programs Resource Guide.

A few other notable federal traffic safety actions in 2017 included:

  • The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) sought public comment on state Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) implementation and effectiveness reports required by the FAST Act. HSIP’s purpose is to achieve a significant reduction in traffic fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads.
  • In September, NHTSA released new federal guidance for Automated Driving Systems (ADS),  A Vision for Safety 2.0, the latest guidance for automated driving systems to industry and the states. For more information read NCSL’s Info Alert

Occupant Protection

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among those ages 1 to 54 in the United States. Nearly half of all passenger fatalities (10,428 passengers, 48 percent) in 2016 were not restrained. Research indicates that lap/shoulder seat belts, when used properly, reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50 percent.

The latest data via NHTSA’s National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) reports that seat belt use in 2017 was 89.7 percent. Seat belt use since 2000 has generally increased, accompanied by a steady decline in motor vehicle occupant fatalities who were not wearing seatbelts. In 2016, NHTSA found that seat belts in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 14,668 lives of occupants 5 and older. An additional estimated 2,456 lives would have been saved in 2016 if all unrestrained passengers involved in fatal crashes had worn their seatbelts.

The American Automobile Association (AAA), releases a Traffic Safety Culture Index each year. In 2016, 87.8 percent of drivers said it is unacceptable to drive without wearing a seat belt but 1 in 6 drivers admitted to doing so in the last month. NHTSA’s data shows that seat belt use varies widely in the states—from 70.2 percent in New Hampshire to 97.2 percent in Georgia in 2016

Table 1. Seat Belt Use Rates by States and Territories

State or U.S. Territory

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2015–2016

Change

Alabama

90.0

91.4

88.0

89.5

97.3

95.7

93.3

92.0

-1.3

Alaska

86.1

86.8

89.3

88.1

86.1

88.4

89.3

88.5

-0.8

Arizona

80.8

81.8

82.9

82.2

84.7

87.2

86.6

88.0

1.4

Arkansas

74.4

78.3

78.4

71.9

76.7

74.4

77.7

75.1

-2.6

California

95.3

96.2

96.6

95.5

97.4

97.1

97.3

96.5

-0.8

Colorado

81.1

82.9

82.1

80.7

82.1

82.4

85.2

84.0

-1.2

Connecticut

85.9

88.2

88.4

86.8

86.6

85.1

85.4

89.4

4.0

Delaware

88.4

90.7

90.3

87.9

92.2

91.9

90.4

91.4

1.0

Dist. Of Columbia

93.0

92.3

95.2

92.4

87.5

93.2

95.5

94.1

-1.4

Florida

85.2

87.4

88.1

87.4

87.2

88.8

89.4

89.6

0.2

Georgia

88.9

89.6

93.0

92.0

95.5

97.3

97.3

97.2

-0.1

Hawaii

97.9

97.6

96.0

93.4

94.0

93.5

92.8

94.5

1.7

Idaho

79.2

77.9

79.1

79.0

81.6

80.2

81.1

82.9

1.8

Illinois

91.7

92.6

92.9

93.6

93.7

94.1

95.2

93.0

-2.2

Indiana

92.6

92.4

93.2

93.6

91.6

90.2

91.9

92.4

0.5

Iowa

93.1

93.1

93.5

92.4

91.9

92.8

93.0

93.8

0.8

Kansas

77.0

81.8

82.9

79.5

80.7

85.7

82.1

87.0

4.9

Kentucky

79.7

80.3

82.2

83.7

85.0

86.1

86.7

86.5

-0.2

Louisiana

74.5

75.9

77.7

79.3

82.5

84.1

85.9

87.8

1.9

Maine

82.6

82.0

81.6

84.4

83.0

85.0

85.5

85.8

0.3

Maryland

94.0

94.7

94.2

91.1

90.7

92.1

92.9

90.8

-2.1

Massachusetts

73.6

73.7

73.2

72.7

74.8

76.6

74.1

78.2

4.1

Michigan

98.0

95.2

94.5

93.6

93.0

93.3

92.8

94.5

1.7

Minnesota

90.2

92.3

92.7

93.6

94.8

94.7

94.0

93.2

-0.8

Mississippi

76.0

81.0

81.9

83.2

74.4

78.3

79.6

77.9

-1.7

Missouri

77.2

76.0

79.0

79.4

80.1

78.8

79.9

81.4

1.5

Montana

79.2

78.9

76.9

76.3

74.0

74.0

77.0

76.0

-1.0

Nebraska

84.8

84.1

84.2

78.6

79.1

79.0

79.6

83.3

3.7

Nevada

91.0

93.2

94.1

90.5

94.8

94.0

92.1

89.4

-2.7

New Hampshire

68.9

72.2

75.0

68.6

73.0

70.4

69.5

70.2

0.7

New Jersey

92.7

93.7

94.5

88.3

91.0

87.6

91.4

93.4

2.0

New Mexico

90.1

89.8

90.5

91.4

92.0

92.1

93.3

92.3

-1.0

New York

88.0

89.8

90.5

90.4

91.1

90.6

92.2

91.8

-0.4

North Carolina

89.5

89.7

89.5

87.5

88.6

90.6

89.9

91.7

1.8

North Dakota

81.5

74.8

76.7

80.9

77.7

81.0

80.4

82.8

2.4

Ohio

83.6

83.8

84.1

82.0

84.5

85.0

83.9

83.8

-0.1

Oklahoma

84.2

85.9

85.9

83.8

83.6

86.3

84.5

86.6

2.1

Oregon

96.6

97.0

96.6

96.8

98.2

97.8

95.5

96.2

0.7

Pennsylvania

87.9

86.0

83.8

83.5

84.0

83.6

82.7

85.2

2.5

Rhode Island

74.7

78.0

80.4

77.5

85.6

87.4

86.7

87.5

0.8

South Carolina

81.5

85.4

86.0

90.5

91.7

90.0

91.6

93.9

2.3

South Dakota

72.1

74.5

73.4

66.5

68.7

68.9

73.6

74.2

0.6

Tennessee

80.6

87.1

87.4

83.7

84.8

87.7

86.2

88.9

2.7

Texas

92.9

93.8

93.7

94.0

90.3

90.7

90.5

91.6

1.1

Utah

86.1

89.0

89.2

81.9

82.4

83.4

87.2

87.9

0.7

Vermont

85.3

85.2

84.7

84.2

84.9

84.1

86.0

80.0

-6.0

Virginia

82.3

80.5

81.8

78.4

79.7

77.3

80.9

79.0

-1.9

Washington

96.4

97.6

97.5

96.9

94.5

94.5

94.6

94.7

0.1

West Virginia

87.0

82.1

84.9

84.0

82.2

87.8

89.0

86.8

-2.2

Wisconsin

73.8

79.2

79.0

79.9

82.4

84.7

85.8

88.4

2.6

Wyoming

67.6

78.9

82.6

77.0

81.9

79.2

79.8

80.5

0.7

Nationwide

84

85

84

86

87

86.7

88.5

90.1

1.6

Puerto Rico

92.3

NA

91.9

90.2

89.7

89.5

91.8

93.8

2.0

American Samoa

60.0

73.0

77.0

75.0

74.9

76.3

77.0

82.9

5.9

Guam

80.0

85.0

81.0

81.4

93.8

90.1

91.5

90.1

-1.4

No. Mariana Islands

84.6

80.9

93.7

NA

90.5

91.4

95.6

92.3

-3.3

U.S. Virgin Island

85.6

86.4

85.6

77.9

76.8

66.1

82.7

79.1

-3.6

Note: Rates in jurisdictions with primary belt enforcement during the calendar year of the survey are shaded.

SourcesNHTSA 2017.

Seat belt laws and enforcement can encourage drivers and passengers to buckle up. Every state except New Hampshire has an adult safety belt law. Seat belts laws can be primary or secondary. Primary laws allow police officers to stop motorists solely for violating the seat belt law. Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia have primary enforcement seat belt laws. Fifteen states have secondary seat belt laws that require police to stop the vehicle for other reasons before they can cite the driver for failure to use a seat belt. According to NHTSA, states with primary laws averaged a bit over 5 percent higher seat belt use than secondary law states in 2017.

Laws in 19 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands have primary laws that require occupants in both the front and rear seats to be belted. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, seat belt use by adults in the back of passenger vehicles is about 10 percentage points lower than by those in the front. (Appendix B contains information about safety belt use laws and Appendix D contains information on occupants in cargo areas in trucks.)

The CDC released a report in September 2017, Rural and Urban Differences in Passenger-Vehicle-Occupant Deaths and Seat Belt Use Among Adults-United States, 2014. The report found that the passenger vehicle occupant death rates increased in more rural counties, as did the proportion of vehicle occupants who were not wearing seat belts at the time of the fatal crash.

The Virginia DMV released a report in 2017 examining seat belt use in the state. The report found a seat belt use rate of 85.3 percent which is the highest rate that has been recorded in the state. Drivers were observed wearing a seat belt more often than passengers and females had a higher seat belt use rate than males.

State Legislation

During the 2017 state legislative session, 27 states considered bills related to seat belts. Kansas established a seat belt safety fund to be used to educate children regarding occupant protection. A portion of the fine for each seat belt violation is allocated to the fund. New York’s new law requires drivers and passengers in the front seat of taxis or other for-hire vehicles to wear a seat belt.

Mississippi enacted legislation requiring passengers in all seats, including rear seats, to wear seat belts. This expanded the law that previously only applied to passengers in the front seat and children younger than 7 in the back seat. Alabama, Connecticut, New York and Virginia considered, but did not enact similar legislation.

Utah enacted a primary seat belt law in 2017. However, the court will waive the fine for a violation of the requirement for a child under 8 who is 57 inches tall or taller to be in a child restraint device if the person submits proof of acquisition, rental, or purchase of a child restraint device.

Other states that considered primary seat belt legislation include Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, Vermont and Wyoming. Arkansas debated changing its law from primary to secondary.

Child Passenger Protection 

Baby featured in a car seat.Although child deaths in motor vehicle crashes have declined since 1975, an average of three children (defined as age 14 and under) were killed every day during 2016, for a total of 1233 fatalities, according to the latest NHTSA data. The most effective way to keep children safe in cars is to ensure they are properly restrained in appropriate child restraint systems in the back seat. NHTSA estimates that child safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants (under one year) and by 54 percent for toddlers (age 1 to 4) in passenger cars. In 2016, NHTSA estimates that 328 children age 4 and younger were saved by the use of child restraints, an increase from an estimated 272 lives saved in 2015.

NHTSA’s recommendations and child restraint guidelines include:

  • For the best possible protection, infants should be kept in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats until a minimum of age 1 and at least 20 pounds. The child should be kept rear-facing as long as possible—until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, the child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether.
  • When children outgrow their rear-facing seats they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat.
  • Once children outgrow the forward-facing seats, they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until vehicle seat belts fit properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face.

NHTSA notes the primary reasons for injuries to children restrained at the time of motor vehicle crashes relate to prematurely turning a child forward, premature moving from harnessed safety seats to booster seats, premature moving from booster seats to adult safety belts, misuse of safety restraints and seat belts and children seated in the front seat of the vehicle. 

State Legislation

Every state and the District of Columbia has child restraint laws that require children of certain ages and sizes to ride in appropriate, federally approved child safety restraint systems. While every state has a law, there is variation in the age and size requirements. Some laws cover children only up to a certain age (usually age 4), while others allow use of adult safety belts to restrain children.

Child restraint laws are primarily enforced in all states except Nebraska and Ohio. Nebraska's law is secondary for children between 6 and 18 who are required to wear seat belts and primary for those who are required to be in a child safety seat. Nebraska considered legislation that would have made the state’s law subject to primary enforcement but the bill was pending at the time of publication.

Ohio's law is secondary for children between 4 and 14 who are not required to be in a child safety seat. (Appendix C contains information on state child restraint use laws.) According to the CDC, booster seat use reduces the risk of serious injury by 45 percent for children ages 4 to 8 compared with seat belt use alone.

In 2017, 22 states debated child passenger protection legislation and five states—New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island and South Carolina—enacted laws. New York’s law now requires child safety seats be rear-facing for children under two unless they exceed the weight or height limits.

North Dakota law previously required that children under 7 be secured in a child restraint system unless they are over the height or weight limitations of the system. This year, the state passed legislation to include all children under 8 who are less than 57 inches tall. Children under 8 who are at least 57 inches tall must be correctly buckled in a seat belt.

Oregon’s law now requires that children under two years old must be in a rear-facing child safety seat. Previously, the law required a rear-facing seat for children under 1 or who weigh 20 pounds or less.
Rhode Island’s new law requires that children under 2 or less than 30 pounds must be in a rear-facing seat. Children who are 2 or older or who have outgrown the height or weight requirements of the rear-facing car seat should use a forward-facing car seat with a harness.

South Carolina’s new law made a number of changes to the state’s child safety seat law. The law requires that children under 8 be properly secured in a vehicle; the law previously applied to children 5 and younger. Children under 2 must be in a rear-facing child passenger restraint system in the rear passenger seat until the child exceeds the height or weight limit of the seat. Children at least 2 years old or who have outgrown the rear-facing seat must be in a front-facing child passenger restraint system with a harness in the rear passenger seat of the vehicle. Children at least 4 years old or who have outgrown the forward-facing child passenger restraint system must be in a belt-positioning booster seat in the rear of the vehicle until an adult seat belt fits appropriately. If a child is at least 8 years old or over 57 inches tall, they may be restrained by a seat belt. 

Smoking in Cars with Children

Protection for child passengers has also come in the form of reducing a child’s exposure to tobacco smoke by prohibiting adult drivers and passengers from smoking while in a vehicle with a child. Five states—Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Maine and Utah—have such prohibitions. Utah’s 2013 law prohibits drivers from smoking in a vehicle containing a passenger who is 15 or younger. The infraction carries a $45 fine. In 2017, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Mississippi and West Virginia considered similar laws but none were enacted. 

Impaired Driving

In 2016, according to NHTSA, 10,497 people were killed in alcohol-impaired traffic crashes, accounting for 28 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities. Of those fatalities, 6,479 (62 percent) were drivers who had BACs of .08 g/dL or higher, while the remainder were motor vehicle occupants (3,070 making up 29 percent) and nonoccupants (948 deaths accounting for 9 percent).

Impaired driving continues to be a serious traffic safety and public health issue for states (see Table 2). According to NHTSA, an alcohol impaired-driving fatality occurred, on average, every 50 minutes in 2016. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes is more than $44 billion according to the most recent data. 

Table 2. Alcohol-Impaired Traffic Fatalities, 2016

State/Jurisdiction

Total Traffic Fatalities

Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities (BAC ≥.08)

Percentage Alcohol-Impaired

Alabama

1,038

279

27%

Alaska

84

30

36%

Arizona

962

232

24%

Arkansas

545

117

21%

California

3,623

1,059

29%

Colorado

608

161

27%

Connecticut

293

100

34%

Delaware

119

37

31%

District of Columbia

27

10

38%

Florida

3,174

841

26%

Georgia

1,554

368

24%

Hawaii

120

34

28%

Idaho

253

77

30%

Illinois

1,082

315

29%

Indiana

821

211

26%

Iowa

404

106

26%

Kansas

429

94

22%

Kentucky

834

175

21%

Louisiana

757

225

30%

Maine

161

54

33%

Maryland

505

130

26%

Massachusetts

389

119

31%

Michigan

1,064

236

22%

Minnesota

392

93

24%

Mississippi

690

128

19%

Missouri

945

244

26%

Montana

190

85

45%

Nebraska

218

62

29%

Nevada

328

101

31%

New Hampshire

136

40

30%

New Jersey

601

137

23%

New Mexico

402

118

29%

New York

1,025

283

28%

North Carolina

1,450

354

24%

North Dakota

113

50

45%

Ohio

1,132

324

29%

Oklahoma

683

180

26%

Oregon

495

154

31%

Pennsylvania

1,188

327

28%

Rhode Island

51

19

37%

South Carolina

1,015

331

33%

South Dakota

116

46

39%

Tennessee

1,041

223

21%

Texas

3,776

1,438

38%

Utah

281

52

19%

Vermont

62

27

43%

Virginia

760

220

29%

Washington

537

161

30%

West Virginia

269

68

25%

Wisconsin

607

193

32%

Wyoming

112

32

29%

U.S. Total

37,461

10,497

28%

Puerto Rico

279

92

33%

Source:  NHTSA, Alcohol impaired driving: 2016 data.

In June 2017, NHTSA released a study looking at the Feasibility of Voluntary Ignition Interlocks as a Prevention Strategy for Young Drivers. Though ignition interlock devices are commonly used as a deterrent for those convicted of alcohol-impaired driving offenses, NHTSA studied the idea of using these devices to prevent teen drivers from driving drunk. When researchers spoke with ignition interlock companies, they found that only a small number of individuals in the U.S. had voluntarily signed up for the ignition interlock program; most were court ordered to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles. When researchers spoke with car insurance companies, the insurance companies said they were open to the idea of offering discounted premiums and other driving incentives when drivers used ignition interlocks, but they would need more research that shows that the ignition interlock lowers driving risks, changes behaviors and makes young drivers safer. Parents and teens seemed to think that, overall, the device could be helpful in preventing drunk driving, but it could lead to teens using drugs instead of drinking and finding other methods to circumvent ignition interlock devices. Parents and teens also felt that installing the device would be too invasive and the reputation of the device, something used for punishment, would need to change before voluntary installation of these devices becomes acceptable.

NHTSA released an exploratory study in August 2017 that looked at how ignition interlock data is used for offender monitoring and offender-related programs and to find if that ignition interlock data can be used effectively to reduce alcohol-impaired driving recidivism. Researchers found that automated uploading of ignition interlock data has made it easier to track program statistics and success, but it has yet to be seen if this automatic uploading of information is helpful in evaluating alcohol-impaired driving recidivism.

According to the study, it appears offenders are not dealing with their underlying drinking problem or reducing their alcohol consumption while using an ignition interlock device. The study suggests this may mean a combination of treatment for alcohol use disorders with interlock programs may be needed. This need, though known, has not been realized in part because of lack of coordination of sanctioning and treatment programs for these offenders. Issues relating to turf, cost, privacy laws and technological impediments are factors that may be contributing to a lack of coordinating and sharing this information between states, courts and probation offices.

State Legislation

Legislation on impaired driving was considered in 48 states, with over 450 bills debated in 2017. Legislation was enacted in 35 states. Ultimately, these laws are intended to reduce impaired driving, thereby reducing injuries and fatalities. Legislation was enacted on a range of topics addressing impaired driving, from modified ignition interlock requirements to higher penalties for repeat offenders and sobriety monitoring programs. 

High BAC

According to NHTSA, in fatal crashes in 2016, the driver with the highest blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in the crash had a BAC of .15 or greater in 19 percent of such crashes. That makes up over 57 percent of all drivers that had been drinking and were involved in fatal crashes in 2016.

To address this problem, states have enacted high-BAC laws with enhanced sanctions for offenders with higher BACs. The sanctions, which vary from state to state, include longer license suspension, longer terms of imprisonment, additional fines, installation of ignition interlocks, vehicle sanctions or mandatory treatment. The BAC levels at which these sanctions are applied vary as well, ranging from .15 to .20. NHTSA recommends that the enhanced penalties for first-time high-BAC offenders should be comparable to those for repeat offenders.

No states enacted high BAC laws in 2017.

Ignition Interlock Requirements

Ignition interlock devices are installed in motor vehicles to prevent the car from being started if a set level of alcohol, usually .02 or .025, is detected on the driver’s breath. Most devices require random retesting while the car is running to ensure that the driver is not drinking once the car is started. Many courts include the use of ignition interlock devices when sentencing offenders convicted of driving under the influence (DUI). (It is understood that while many states refer to impaired driving as “driving while impaired,” or “operating while impaired,” or “operating under the influence,” the term “DUI” will be used for this document.) During sentencing, an offender whose driver's license has been suspended or revoked can be granted limited driving privileges if an ignition interlock device is installed on the vehicle(s) they use. All 50 states have passed legislation that allow or require use of ignition interlocks for some drunk driving offenders.

As of December 2017, 27 states—Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah,  Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia—and the District of Columbia all require ignition interlock devices for all convicted drunken driving offenders. Pennsylvania’s law is unique because it requires interlocks for first-time offenders if they had a blood alcohol concentration of .10 or greater. The other states set the limit at .08 or greater. Colorado’s ignition interlock law does not make installation of the devices mandatory for first-time offenders, but they provide strong incentives for installation.

At least 12 states—Arizona, Arkansas, California, Kansas, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington—enacted ignition interlock related legislation in 2017. New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington enacted laws that in part specifically addressed compliance and are addressed in the Ignition Interlock Compliance Laws section.

Nevada’s new law requires a person whose license is revoked for a BAC over .08 to install an ignition interlock device for at least 185 days in order to obtain a restricted license. The law also allows a court to extend the required time for the interlock in certain instances.

The new law in Arkansas requires a person whose license has been revoked for a repeat DUI conviction to install an ignition interlock on their vehicle if they regain their driver’s license. Individuals who have committed a first time DUI offense may petition the court to waive the ignition interlock requirement. The court may do so if the person has to operate a vehicle for their work, if a doctor certifies that the person cannot provide a deep lung breath sample for an ignition interlock device, or an ignition interlock provider is not located within 100 miles of the person’s residence.

Kansas amended its law to specifically require that every person who has an ignition interlock installed must complete the program and have proof of completion prior to full reinstatement of their driving privileges. New Hampshire’s law now permits a court to require the installation of an ignition interlock device in order to have a license reinstated for a driver convicted of vehicular manslaughter involving alcohol.

Oklahoma’s 2017 legislation allows revocation of driving privileges for violating an ignition interlock. The law also requires courts to mandate as a condition of bond that an interlock device be installed on the vehicle for someone charged with a second or subsequent DUI.

Arizona’s enacted bill allows the potential extension of time an individual has an interlock restricted license if that person attempts to operate a vehicle while over the presumptive limit twice during the period of license restriction. Previously, the law allowed the extension after three attempts. The law also prohibits any marking of an individual’s physical driver’s license regarding an ignition interlock requirement unless it is a second or subsequent conviction. The law also includes a number of requirements for ignition interlock device manufacturers and service providers.

Oregon now allows a court to order an individual to complete additional treatment if the court receives at least two negative reports, which includes tampering with an ignition interlock device, unauthorized removal of an ignition interlock device, lockout or a test violation. The law also requires the identification of the location of a failed test. Furthermore, Oregon added a number of requirements for providers of ignition interlock devices, such as offering service centers statewide, manning a 24-hour assistance line and performing background checks on ignition interlock device (IID) technicians. Providers must pay fees, with funds placed in the newly created Ignition Interlock Device Management Fund, housed in the State Treasury. In 2019, the oversight of ignition interlock providers will be transferred from the Department of Transportation to the Department of State Police.

New Mexico, which has an ignition interlock licensing requirement for a first DWI conviction, clarified that requirement does not apply when a person only has only one prior conviction for DWI in another jurisdiction and has completed all their sentencing conditions, allowing them to procure a driver’s license.

Virginia clarified that the period of time during which a person is prohibited from operating a motor vehicle unless it is either equipped with an ignition interlock system or required to have an ignition interlock system installed on each motor vehicle owned by or registered to the offender, is calculated from the date the Department of Motor Vehicles issues a restricted license.

Pennsylvania now allows individuals enrolled in an accelerated rehabilitative disposition program the option of applying for an Ignition Interlock Limited License for the duration of their suspension.

Minnesota clarified that an ignition interlock device may not permit location tracking capabilities unless ordered by a court.

California made small technical revisions to their ignition interlock program.

Ignition Interlock Compliance Laws

States are amending provisions of their ignition interlocks laws to include compliance-based removal provisions. To attain compliance-based removal, an offender must use the interlock device and not fail any tests for a set amount of time prior to removal. Washington passed its compliance-based removal provision in 2011. The law states that, when the requirement period is over, the offender can have the device removed if he or she has not:

  • Tried to start the vehicle with a breath alcohol concentration of .04 or more.
  • Failed to take or pass any required retests.
  • Failed to obtain scheduled maintenance, repairs, calibration, monitoring, inspection or replacement of the device.

Previously, the requirement period in Washington was four months. Legislation this year increased that to 180 days.

New Hampshire enacted legislation in 2017 to specify that failure to comply with certain requirements, for instance failing to take a retest or taking a retest with a BAC over .025 can result in an additional period of time requiring the interlock device.

Oregon now allows a court to order an individual to complete alcohol or drug treatment if the court receives at least two negative reports regarding an individual’s interlock, which includes tampering with an ignition interlock device, unauthorized removal of an ignition interlock device, lockout or a test violation.

Pennsylvania legislation requires individuals enrolled in an accelerated rehabilitative disposition program with an Ignition Interlock Limited License to receive a declaration of compliance from the vendor stating they have compiled during the 30-day suspension. 

Ignition Interlock Camera Based Compliance Laws

Seventeen states—Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Washington—require all or some offenders to install interlock devices that are equipped with a camera. The camera captures an image of the person using the interlock to ensure the driver is the person taking the test to start the vehicle. Missouri and Vermont have GPS requirements for some offenders. Although Colorado has no requirement in the statute, the DMV’s contracts with ignition interlock vendors require all devices have cameras.

No new legislation was enacted in 2017 concerning camera-based interlock compliance. However, in Iowa, a new administrative rule is likely to go into effect in 2018 that will require all ignition interlocks to be equipped with cameras. While the vehicle will start if someone other than the driver is filmed blowing into the device, the offender may be to subject to losing their license, as well as being charged with a misdemeanor for tampering with the device. Offenders using an interlock device will have to pay an additional $15 a month for the devices to be equipped with cameras. The Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau recommended this administrative change to strengthen the state’s ignition interlock program.  

US map showing states requiring cameras on ignition interlock devices for some offenders.

 

 

Implied Consent, Blood Alcohol Testing and Test Refusals

When a person signs the forms to apply for a driver’s license, they agree to comply with requests by law enforcement officers to take breath or blood samples to determine blood-alcohol content (BAC). A breath test can be administered roadside or at any location; blood and urine testing can only be performed at a medical facility or detention facility. These laws, called implied consent laws, are based on the premise that driving is a privilege and not a right. Offenders who refuse will still face administrative penalties, like having their driver’s license suspended. All states have some sort of implied consent law but the penalties vary.

States such as Nebraska, Mississippi and Wyoming require a 90-day license suspension for a first time BAC refusal. Other states require a six month or even a year suspension. Some suspected DUI offenders will refuse to take BAC tests and take a license suspension in order to avoid or reduce the chance of facing more serious criminal sanctions. NHTSA research indicates about 20 percent of people arrested for drunken driving refuse to submit to a BAC test. In response to high refusal rates, at least 15 states currently criminalize refusal to consent to a BAC. Criminal penalties typically include fines and jail time.  

Throughout the years, questions arose as to whether these laws violated the Fourth Amendment. In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled in Birchfield v. North Dakota that police had to obtain a warrant in order to test the blood of an individual suspected of impaired driving, but that a warrant is not required for a breath test. States may criminalize an arrestee’s refusal to take a warrantless breath test. If states criminalize the refusal to take a blood test---police must obtain a warrant. Per the search-incident-to-arrest exception, police officers are allowed to search an arrestee’s person, without first obtaining a warrant, to protect officer safety or evidence. To determine if this exception applies, the Court weighed the degree to which the search “intrudes upon an individual’s privacy” with the need to promote “legitimate government interests.” The Court concluded the privacy intrusion of breath tests was minimal but the privacy intrusion of blood tests was not. “While humans exhale air from their lungs many times per minute, humans do not continually shed blood.” For this reason, the Court concluded if states criminalize the refusal to take a blood test, police must obtain a warrant.

This year, a few states passed legislation to bring state law in line with the court’s decision. States that passed such legislation include Arkansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington. The Minnesota legislation also requires a search warrant for urine tests. Rhode Island decriminalized the refusal of a blood test, but still subjects second or subsequent refusals to a fine and community service, along with a license suspension, alcohol or drug treatment and ignition interlock.

Oklahoma enacted legislation removing the requirement for automatic license revocation for a test result or refusal, allowing a person to participate in an impaired driver accountability program.

Virginia also enacted legislation making the refusal to submit to a breath test a civil offense on a first refusal and a misdemeanor if they have been convicted of certain prior violations in the past 10 years.

Enhanced Criminal Penalties for Repeat Offenders

Colorado’s legislation requires that, if a felony DUI offender (someone who commits a fourth or subsequent DUI offense) is sentenced to probation, the judge must require they serve between 90 and 180 days in the county jail and they are not eligible for good-time credit during that time. They must also complete between 48 and 120 hours of community service and complete a specified alcohol and drug driving safety education or treatment program.

Maine now allows a 10-year license suspension for a DUI driver who has a prior felony DUI. Montana authorized sentencing an individual with three or more prior convictions to a treatment court program for up to five years, in addition to a fine between $5,000 and $10,000.

When a driver is convicted of a second or subsequent DUI offense in Utah, they may now be subject to either a jail sentence of at least 240 hours or a jail sentence of at least 120 hours in combination with home confinement for at least 720 consecutive hours using electronic monitoring that includes substance abuse testing.

Previously in Washington, a fifth DUI was a felony. In 2017, the legislature modified this to make a fourth DUI a felony offense.

Treatment Programs and 24/7 Sobriety Monitoring Programs

One significant legislative trend related to impaired driving is the interest in using treatment programs and sobriety monitoring programs to help prevent DUI recidivism. Court-mandated treatment, which requires impaired driving offenders to participate in an evaluation and treatment for their substance abuse issues, has always been an option for judges when sentencing DUI offenders. Recently, however, more interest has been shown in combining behavioral treatment with more punitive sanctions, leading to a more comprehensive approach in dealing with impaired driving offenders and those who have committed other offenses while impaired. One of these programs is called a “24/7 sobriety monitoring program.” In 2007, South Dakota became the first state to pass a statewide program of this kind. The pre-trial program emphasizes offender sobriety and requires repeat- and high-BAC DUI offenders to submit to a breath or urine test twice a day at a local sheriff’s office or other designated site. Breathalyzers, transdermal alcohol monitoring devices (ankle bracelets) and drug monitoring patches also may be used to monitor an offender’s sobriety. If the offender fails or does not appear for a test, the offender’s bond, parole or probation may be immediately revoked and, in most cases, the infraction will result in immediate incarceration.

In 2013, the RAND Corporation published the first peer-reviewed evaluation of whether 24/7 sobriety monitoring programs improved public health in South Dakota. Key findings indicated that, between 2005 and 2010, more than 17,000 South Dakota residents—including more than 10 percent of men ages 18 to 40 in some counties—participated in a 24/7 program. At the county level, researchers documented a 12 percent reduction in repeat DUI arrests and a 9 percent reduction in domestic violence arrests following adoption of the program. Evidence pertaining to traffic crashes was mixed.

 A 2015 study by the Upper Great Plains Institute at North Dakota State University studied the deterrent effect of the 24/7 program on offenders. Researchers found that among DUI offenders in this sample, positive behavioral improvements were made upon enrolling in the program. The program appears to have more of a deterrent effect on women than on men. The mandatory 12-month enrollment period has a stronger deterrent effect than did prior sentences, which generally were left to judicial discretion. Nonetheless, for the group of high-risk offenders who likely have alcohol abuse problems, the program was found to have little deterrent effect.

Other states have used South Dakota’s model and Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming have enacted statewide legislation.

In 2017, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, South Dakota, Utah and Washington enacted laws concerning 24/7 Sobriety Monitoring programs.  

Hawaii’s 2017 legislation allows the court to require repeat DUI offenders to submit to continuous alcohol monitoring for at least 90 days. Utah now allows a court to order a person convicted of DUI to participate in a 24/7 sobriety program. The law also requires the establishment of a 24/7 sobriety pilot program in the state.

Legislation in South Dakota allowed the use of mobile breath alcohol testing in the state’s 24/7 program.

Washington’s law now allows for second-time offenders with a lower BAC at the time of testing to avoid the mandatory two-year license suspension by participating in the 24/7 program.

Delaware’s law enables an individual whose license has been revoked but who has not been convicted to obtain a conditional license if they are in a continuous sobriety monitoring program. The law specifies that it will go into effect when a continuous sobriety monitoring program is created in the state.

Iowa enacted legislation directing the state department of public safety to establish a 24/7 sobriety and drug monitoring program for Iowa counties that choose to volunteer for the program. It has been announced that Woodbury County in western Iowa will pilot the 24/7 program beginning in the spring of 2018, with the goal of expanding to all counties in the state. 

Other 2017 Impaired Driving Legislation 

Arkansas enacted a law prohibiting the possession of an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle, as well as a law removing the authority for the court to order public service instead of imprisonment for DUI offenses.

Michigan has a provision in a law that periodically sunsets the state’s BAC level for a DUI and would raise the limit from .08 to .10, which was due to take effect on Oct. 1, 2018. Legislation in 2017 changed that date to Oct. 1, 2021.

New Jersey established the crime of strict liability for vehicular homicide which occurs when an impaired driver kills someone.

Utah Enacts First in the Nation .05 BAC Limit

Utah became the first state to lower their legal BAC limit from .08 to .05 for a DUI, with the law slated to go into effect on Dec. 30, 2018.

A 2018 report from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recommended states adopt a .05 BAC limit and the federal government help encourage such a change, as did a 2013 National Transportation Safety Board report. Notably, the AAA Foundation’s 2016 Traffic Safety Culture Index (Feb. 2017) found that the majority (63.5 percent) of drivers support lowering the BAC limit from .08 to .05 (32.6 percent strongly; 30.9 percent somewhat).

However, before the Utah change, no state had come close to making the move to the lower limit. Hawaii and Washington did consider but did not enact similar legislation in 2017. The Hawaii legislation has been re-referred to the Judiciary and Transportation and Energy committees respectively for the 2018 session. One of the Washington bills passed out of the House Committee on Public Safety, but made it no further and is still pending in 2018.

Drugged Driving

In addition to alcohol-impaired driving, drugged driving is implicated in an increasing number of crashes and fatalities. In the 2013-2014 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers, about 20 percent of weekend nighttime drivers tested positive for at least one drug, up from 16.3 percent in 2007. The percent of weekend nighttime drivers who tested positive for the presence of marijuana rose from 8.6 percent of drivers in 2007 to 12.6 percent in 2014.

Car accident showing a dented front-end.According to a 2015 Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) analysis of 2015 NHTSA data, drugs were present in 38 percent of the fatally-injured drivers with a known test result. It is difficult to use crash data to quantify how widespread the drugged driving problem is because many states do not test for the presence of drugs, do not test for the same drugs or do not test to the same cutoff levels. Currently, specific drug concentration levels cannot be reliably equated with levels of impairment or effects on driver performance.

An NHTSA study released in December of 2016 collected data from 9,000 Virginia Beach drivers, 3,000 of whom were in crashes, to help gauge the prevalence of drugs and alcohol in drivers’ systems.  Active THC was detected in 7.6 percent of drivers involved in a crash and 6.1 percent of drivers not involved in a crash. Anti-depressants were detected among 4.3 percent of drivers in a crash, as compared to 2.5 percent of drivers not involved in a crash.

The AAA Foundation’s 2016 Traffic Safety Culture Index found less concern from the public regarding driving after using prescription drugs compared to using illegal drugs. Almost 60 percent of U.S. drivers view people driving after using illegal drugs as a very serious threat, while about 34 percent say the same about people driving after using prescription drugs. Notably, 59 percent of drivers felt that “drivers using drugs” was somewhat or a much bigger problem than three years ago; 89 percent of drivers felt it is unacceptable for a driver to drive one hour after using marijuana.

The Governors Highway Safety Administration notes in its 2016 report, “Drug-Impaired Driving: A Guide for What States Can Do” that drugged driving is more complex than alcohol-impaired driving for many reasons including:

  • Hundreds of different drugs can impair drivers.
  • Some drugs that can impair driving are illegal to use, some are legal to use under certain conditions and some are freely available over-the-counter.
  • For many drugs, the relation between its presence in the body, its effect on driving, and its effects on crash risk is complex, not understood well and varies from driver to driver.
  • Data on drug presence in crash-involved drivers are incomplete in most jurisdictions, inconsistent from state to state and sometimes inconsistent across jurisdictions within states.
  • It’s more difficult for law enforcement to detect drug impairment at the roadside than alcohol impairment.
  • Laws regarding driving while under the influence of drugs (DUID) vary across the states.
  • It’s more difficult to prosecute and convict a driver for DUID than for alcohol-impaired driving (DUI).

The legalization of recreational marijuana has brought a new challenge for lawmakers who want to prevent impaired drivers on the roads. As of February 2018, nine states— Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington—and the District of Columbia, have legalized the adult use of marijuana. Washington legalized medical marijuana in 1999 and its recreational use in 2012. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that, in Washington, the proportion of drivers in crashes who tested positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the component that gives cannabis its psychological effects, rose from 20 to 30 percent between 2005 and 2014.

In 2017 the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) Highway Loss Data Institute (HDLI) analyzed collision claims in three states that have legalized recreational marijuana—Colorado, Oregon and Washington. They found that legalized recreational marijuana appeared to result in collision claims 3 percent higher than expected in those three states when compared to neighboring states without legalized recreational marijuana.

Some states have chosen to enact versions of drug per se laws. In these states, a driver cannot have any presence of a prohibited drug or substance in his or her body while driving. These laws vary, however. In Colorado and Washington, the per se applies only to the presence of THC, the primary ingredient found in marijuana. In South Dakota, the per se law applies to people under age 21 only, and in Minnesota, the per se law does not include THC. In all, 22 states—Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin—have some version of a drug per se law. For more information about Drugged Driving Per Se Laws, see NCSL’s Drugged Driving Per Se Laws Chart

As referenced above, some states set a blood content threshold for THC. In Colorado, Illinois, Montana and Washington, anyone who drives a motor vehicle and has a THC blood concentration of 5 nanograms or more is presumed to be guilty of driving under the influence. Nevada and Ohio statutes establish a threshold of 2 nanograms of illegal substances per milliliter of blood, and Pennsylvania’s administrative law establishes the threshold at 5 nanograms.

Regarding driving while impaired by prescription drugs, a 2017 Columbia University study found that the number of drivers who died in a fatal crash that were under the influence of prescription painkillers increased sevenfold between 1995 and 2015. This suggests that not only are overdoses related to opioids a public health crisis, but deaths as a result of traffic crashes are a cause for concern for policymakers.

State Legislation

In 2017, five states—California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts and Nevada—enacted legislation that in some manner addressed drug-impaired driving. California, Florida and Nevada’s legislation focused on marijuana-impaired driving, while Colorado and Massachusetts’ bills were more broadly focused on various types of drugs and their impact on impaired driving.

California passed legislation prohibiting the ingestion of marijuana in any form while driving or riding as a passenger in a motor vehicle.

A 2017 Colorado bill created a requirement for the division of criminal justice within the department of public safety to annually report on substance-affected driving to the Colorado General Assembly to try and get a better handle on the breadth of the problem. The report must include information on the number of citations for substance-affected driving violations, the number that result in a charge being filed, including how many involve one or more drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs and other information. The new law also created a $2 data-analysis surcharge for persons convicted of substance-affected driving with the money deposited in a new substance-affected driving data-analysis cash fund. Those funds can be used to reimburse state, municipal and private agencies and labs for payment of costs they incur in complying with the law.

As part of larger legislation addressing medical marijuana in Florida, the state required the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to implement a statewide impaired driving education campaign. The bill also requires the establishment of baseline data on the number of marijuana-related citations for driving under the influence, marijuana-related traffic arrests, marijuana-related traffic accidents and marijuana-related traffic fatalities. The department or a contracted vendor must evaluate and compile a report on the efficacy of the driver education campaign based on the data and annually report to the Governor, the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives. The legislature appropriated $5 million to carry out these provisions.

A new Massachusetts law requires the establishment of a commission to study the regulation and testing of operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana, narcotic drugs and depressant and stimulant substances. The commission is tasked with studying: (1) scientific and medical types of testing and data; (2) possible new technological forms of testing; (3) civil liberties of the operator; (4) social economic aspects of the testing; (5) admissibility of evidence of impaired driving in court proceedings; (6) burden on law enforcement; (7) the current status of law in the state; (8) training of law enforcement; (9) intrusiveness of tests; (10) cost analysis of testing; (11) the current threshold for determining impairment; (12) the rate of success in stopping impaired operators and (13) anything else the commission deems necessary or significant. Additionally, the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security must establish a public awareness campaign to educate the public about impaired driving including, but not limited to, impairment by the use of marijuana.

Nevada changed its law to specify that testing for marijuana or marijuana metabolite when someone is suspected of DUID can only be done through blood tests, removing the option for urine tests.

Federal Action

Section 4008 of the FAST Act required the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct a study on marijuana-impaired driving. The issues to be examined included:

  • Methods to detect marijuana-impaired driving, including devices capable of measuring marijuana levels in drivers.
  • A review of impairment standard research for driving under the influence of marijuana.
  • Methods to differentiate the cause of a driving impairment between alcohol and marijuana.
  • State-based policies on marijuana-impaired driving.
  • The role and extent of marijuana impairment in motor vehicle crashes.

The findings of the report were released in July 2017 and made a series of recommendations, besides also examining the required issues. The report recommends:

  • Increase the use of effective methods for training law enforcement personnel, including drug recognition experts, to detect or measure the level of impairment of a motor vehicle operator who is under the influence of marijuana by the use of technology or otherwise.
  • Continue research to aid development of an impairment standard for driving under the influence of marijuana. Maintain training and other support to enable officers and prosecutors to pursue cases using available evidence.
  • Encourage states to collect data regarding the prevalence of marijuana use by drivers and those arrested for impaired driving.
  • States should develop record systems that distinguish among alcohol, drugs, or both for impaired driving cases. These records should be integrated into computerized data systems of statewide arrest records, the court record systems and motor vehicle records. One way to accomplish this would be to have separate offenses for driving impaired by alcohol and driving impaired by drugs.
  • State records systems should document which drugs are used by drug-impaired drivers. This information would be helpful for law enforcement, toxicologists and prosecutors.
  • Standard toxicological screening and confirmation procedures should be developed for drug testing laboratories to use in identifying and confirming the presence of drugs that impair driving. These methods should include standard analytic procedures and minimum detection thresholds. There also should be training requirements for the personnel operating these tests.

Lastly, the report recommends state statutes be amended to provide separate and distinct offenses and sanctions for alcohol- and drug-impaired driving that could be applied individually or in combination to a single case. This would provide an incentive for law enforcement officers to pursue a possible drug-impaired driving charge even when a BAC equal to or above the limit of .08 g/dL has already been established.

Distracted Driving

NHTSA defines distraction as any activity that diverts attention from driving, which can include using your cell phone, eating and drinking, talking to other people in the car and other behaviors. Distraction is “anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.” Distractions are generally grouped into three categories:

  • 1. Visually distracting: Tasks that require the driver to look away from the roadway to visually obtain information.
  • 2. Manually distracting: Tasks that require the driver to take a hand off the steering wheel and manipulate a device or object.
  • 3. Cognitively distracting: Tasks that require the driver to think about something other than driving.

Photo shows car driver texting on his smartphone and driving.Each one of these types of distraction can increase crash risk. 

When a driver reads or sends a text message, their eyes are off the road for five seconds according to NHTSA. When someone is driving at 55 mph that results in traveling the length of a football field without looking at the road.

Distracted driving can lead to costly and deadly outcomes. NHTSA reports 3,450 people were killed in crashes involving distracted driving in 2016, a 2.2 percent decrease from 2015. A “distraction-affected” crash is any crash in which a driver is identified as distracted at the time of the crash. Distraction-affected crashes accounted for over 9 percent of fatal crashes in 2016. According to NHTSA, based on all police-reported crashes that occurred in 2010, the economic cost of distraction-affected crashes was nearly $40 billion (in 2010 dollars).

NHTSA’s June 2017 research note looked at electronic device use by drivers in 2016. It found the percentage of drivers visibly manipulating handheld devices decreased from 2.2 percent in 2015 to 2.1 percent in 2016 and handheld cell phone use decreased from 3.8 percent in 2015 to 3.3 percent in 2016. As has been the case in previous years, handheld cell phone use was higher among females than males and was highest among 16- to 24-year-old drivers. 

AAA’s Traffic Safety Culture Index found that 81.1 percent of drivers believe that texting and emailing while driving is a very serious threat to safety but 40.2 percent report having read a text or email while driving in the past 30 days. Almost one in every three drivers (31.4 percent) had typed a text or email while driving. Over 65 percent of drivers reported talking on a cell phone while driving in the past 30 days, with 32.4 percent indicating they do it regularly.

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a report in September 2017 exploring the visual and cognitive demands of using in-vehicle information systems. The report looked at a number of tasks—calling or dialing, text messaging, tuning the radio or programming navigation—to determine what was the most demanding. Programming navigation was determined to be most demanding and texting showed a higher level of overall demand than tuning the radio or calling/dialing. Unsurprisingly, all of the tasks were associated with higher levels of cognitive demand. Texting and programming navigation took longer to complete while radio tuning and programming navigation resulted in higher levels of visual demand, meaning time looking away from the road.

California enacted legislation in 2016 that toughened their distracted driving law, clarifying that a driver cannot operate an electric device that is held in one’s hand while driving and may only use a device if it is mounted on the windshield, dashboard or center console and is operated by a single swipe or tap, addressing, for example, GPS. This law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2017.  California’s Office of Traffic Safety released a report analyzing the use of hand-held mobile devices while driving in the state since the advent of this refined law. The study found the rate of hand-held usage while driving dropped from 7.6 percent of drivers in 2016 to 3.58 percent of drivers in 2017. This data was collected via field observations at 204 sites in 17 counties and included over three times as many observations (19,387) compared to past years of the study.

New Jersey expanded its #77 program in 2017 to allow motorists to call a number to report distracted, aggressive and impaired drivers. The program previously was only for aggressive driving. Callers provide the vehicles make, model and license plate and then the state may send the driver a warning letter or issue a summons if the driving behavior is witnessed by law enforcement.

Oregon’s distracted driving task force released a report in February 2017, making several recommendations for the state. The first recommendation was to engage in distracted driving research. The second was to amend the current cell phone statute to improve enforcement of and promote education on distracted driving. The third was to implement a coordinated education and media campaign and the fourth to develop a distracted driving toolkit.

A study from NHTSA released in March 2017 evaluated the enforceability of texting laws, looking at strategies tested in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Law enforcement agencies used a variety of enforcement strategies, including spotter, stationary and roving patrols. The strategies were varied and “included one- and two-officer patrols, uniformed and plainclothes officers, marked and unmarked patrol vehicles, and a variety of vehicle types, including SUVs, vans, pickup trucks, motorcycles, and cruisers.” One conclusion of the study was that having a strong set of distracted driving laws helps with the enforcement of texting laws, allowing officers to utilize various laws for enforcement if a law, such as a particular texting statute, doesn’t address a particular behavior.

State Legislation

In 2017, legislators in 44 states considered over 230 driver-distraction bills. No state completely bans all phones for all drivers. State legislation usually addresses a range of issues, including particular wireless technologies and specific drivers, such as teenagers. Fifteen states—California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia—and the District of Columbia prohibit driver use of hand-held phones.

Rhode Island implemented a hands-free law in 2017. A violation is subject to a fine of up to $100. The state also created an exception to the texting law for the activation, viewing, or deactivation of GPS.

Oregon expanded its hands-free law to include other uses of a mobile electronic device beyond text messaging or phone calls. The bill also modified the penalties for violations, making the first offense a class B traffic violation and increasing the penalty for subsequent offenses or violations that result in crashes. Violations of the handheld law in work zones where personnel are present or school zones can now result in four points against a driver’s license.

Washington’s new law expanded the state’s distraction law, making it illegal to use a cell phone while driving, including when temporarily stopped. There are a few very specific exemptions to Washington’s new law, such as a driver contacting emergency services. 

Texting while driving also remains a common driver distraction measure debated in legislatures. As of December 2017, 47 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands specifically ban text messaging while driving for all drivers. Texas’ 2017 legislation created a statewide ban on texting while driving for all drivers, making it the 47th state with such a ban. A violation of the Texas texting law is subject to a fine between $25 and $99 for a first offense and between $100 and $200 for subsequent offenses. If a distracted driver causes the death or serious bodily injury of another person, the offense is a class A misdemeanor subject to a fine of up to $4,000 and imprisonment for up to one year.

Most of the states with texting with driving laws enforce them with primary enforcement, but four states—Florida, Nebraska, Ohio and South Dakota—have secondary enforcement laws that allow police to issue a texting-while-driving citation only if the motorist was first stopped for another infraction. Iowa modified its law to make texting while driving a primary offense. Missouri bans texting while driving for novice drivers under 21. In 2017, Missouri debated expanding that prohibition to all drivers, but the legislation failed. Arizona’s new law prohibits cell phone use by a driver with an instruction permit while driving and makes it a secondary offense, leaving Montana as the only state without any sort of texting ban.

Arkansas passed legislation this year expanding the state’s distracted driving law to include the use of social media, in addition to texting while driving. The law provides an exemption for the use of GPS. The penalty is increased to include a fine of up to $250 for a first violation and a fine of up to $500 for subsequent violations. If a distracted driver is involved in a crash, the court may double the fine for the driver. Iowa similarly expanded the state’s distracted driving law to include internet sites, social media applications and games.

Colorado increased the penalty for distracted driving to $300, making it a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense and a four-point offense. If the distracted driver is the cause of bodily injury or death to another person, the offense is a class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense. The law specifies that drivers can be cited by law enforcement if they witness the driver texting while driving and it causes the driver to drive in a “careless and imprudent manner without due regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and use of the streets and highways…”

Delaware established the offense of operation of a vehicle causing serious physical injury to a vulnerable user. This offense applies if someone engages in careless or inattentive driving and seriously injures someone defined as a vulnerable user, including pedestrians, workers in a work zone, bicyclists and motorcyclists, among others. The offense results in a fine of $550, license suspension for up to one year, a requirement to complete a traffic safety course and a requirement for between 10 and 100 hours of community service. The court may suspend the fine and license suspension and dismiss them if the other requirements are successfully completed.

North Dakota created a more general distraction offense of failure to maintain control. The offense occurs when a driver commits a traffic violation and the driver was distracted at the time by an activity that is not necessary to the operation of the vehicle and impairs the ability of the individual to safely operate the vehicle. Washington created the offense of driving while dangerously distracted, subject to a fine of $30. This can include distractions such as eating or applying make-up. This violation is a secondary offense. The bill as passed by the legislature would have made the state’s changes effective Jan. 1, 2019. However, the governor vetoed this provision, making the law effective in 2017.

Lastly, Tennessee made it a class C misdemeanor, subject to a $50 fine, to use a cell phone while driving in a school zone.

Teen Drivers

Teen driver featured siting in a car in the drivers seat, showing her keys. Young, inexperienced drivers are considerably overrepresented in fatal crashes, according to NHTSA. The latest NHTSA data on younger drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 shows that in 2016, 1,908 young drivers were killed in car crashes. An additional 654 passengers age 15 to 20 who were riding with young drivers were killed in crashes. Unintentional motor vehicle traffic deaths were the leading cause of death for people between 15 and 24 in 2015 according to the CDC and the risk of crashes is higher among 16- to-19-year-olds than for any other age group. Given these statistics, teen driving remains a top traffic safety issue for legislatures.

Due to immaturity and inexperience, young drivers may often exhibit dangerous driving behaviors. Teen drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than drivers age 20 and older according to the CDC. Injury and fatality rates are high for teens because they are more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as speeding, driving under the influence, running red lights and not wearing safety belts, all of which contribute to high fatality and injury rates.

In every state, some type of law has been enacted intending to protect young drivers as they develop skill and experience. Commonly referred to as graduated driver’s licensing (GDL), the laws provide a gradual process for teen drivers to gain experience in a safer environment.

NHTSA has made recommendations regarding what constitutes a good GDL program. GDL laws vary from state to State, but all GDL approaches consist of three stages, identified by the type of license, provisions, and restrictions. Novice drivers 15 to 18 years old must demonstrate responsible driving behavior during each stage of licensing before advancing to the next level.

NHTSA recommends the following provisions and restrictions for each stage:

Stage 1: Learner's Permit

  • Minimum age 
  • Minimum duration
  • Required supervised driving hours

Stage 2: Intermediate (Provisional) License

  • Minimum age 
  • Nighttime driving restrictions
  • Passenger restriction (except for family, unless noted)

Stage 3: Full Licensure

  • Minimum age

Source: NHTSA Teen Driving Page (Appendix F contains information about teen driving restrictions.)

In late 2016, the CDC released the Graduated Driver Licensing System Planning Guide. The guide includes background information on GDL, the use of data in planning for GDL improvements and strategy development to improve GDL, in addition to other information.

A 2017 study from AAA found that 16- and 17-year old new drivers are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash. The study found that these drivers are 3.9 times as likely as drivers over 18 to be in a crash and 4.5 times as likely as drivers between 30 and 59 to be in a crash. They are 2.6 times as likely to be in a fatal crash as drivers over 18 and 3.2 times as likely as drivers between 30 and 59. The study points to three factors that commonly result in fatal crashes for teen drivers: distraction, not wearing a seat belt and speeding.

State Legislation

In 2017, 36 states considered over 130 bills related to teen drivers. 

Graduated Driver’s Licensing

A number of states considered legislation addressing GDL, though very few new laws were enacted. In 2017, Alabama made violations of the state’s GDL law a primary offense. The driver must attend defensive driving school for a first violation and, for a second or subsequent violation, will have their intermediate license suspended and must revert to a learner’s permit for six months before reapplying for an intermediate license. Any parent or legal guardian who knowingly allows their child to operate in violation of the GDL law may be fined between $150 and $350.

New Hampshire enacted legislation in 2017 allowing a youth operator to have their license suspended, after a hearing, when a crash involving death or bodily injury is being investigated and there is evidence that the license holder was involved in the crash while in violation of a provision of the state’s GDL law. Rhode Island modified the nighttime driving restrictions to allow a young driver to operate between 4 and 5 a.m. when driving to a school event when other transportation is not provided by the school.

In California, a bill passed the legislature that would have extended requirements typically required for 16- and 17-year old drivers to drivers age 18-21, but the bill was vetoed. The bill would have required 18- 21-year-old drivers to complete 50 hours of supervised driving and wait at least 60 days after obtaining a learner’s permit before applying for a driver’s license. The law also would have put into effect nighttime and passenger restrictions for these drivers. The bill was vetoed by the governor. In his veto message, Governor Jerry Brown wrote “[w]hile I understand the author’s intent of needing to address factors that contribute to the unnecessary collisions and deaths of young Californians on our highways, the provisions of this bill create a burden on a segment of adult Californians that are no longer seen as a minor in the eyes of the law.”

States continue to discuss requiring young drivers to place a decal on their car which would assist law enforcement officers in the enforcement of GDL restrictions. New Jersey is the only state that requires placing decals on vehicles driven by young drivers. A few other states, including Maine and Missouri, offer optional decals. New York considered legislation to allow a decal to be placed on the license plates of vehicles driven by individuals under 18. Concerns have been expressed that these decals could lead to other drivers targeting young drivers in some way. As has been the case in prior years, New Jersey considered, but did not pass, legislation to repeal the decal requirement in the state.

Driver’s Education

A few states enacted new laws concerning driver’s education for young adults or their parents in 2017. 

Indiana’s new law requires that drivers under 21 who have had points assessed against their license in at least two separate instances must complete a driver safety program.

In some states, including Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Rhode Island, driver’s education courses are offered or required for parents. Rhode Island passed 2017 legislation requiring parents with children under the age of 18 to take a course on the content of driver’s education and the requirements for graduated driver licensing in the state.

Distraction and Young Drivers

Distracted driving among young drivers is a serious safety issue. In 2016, the latest NHTSA data shows 10 percent of drivers ages 15 to 19 who were involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the crashes. According to the University of Michigan, Transportation Research Institute, as many as 25 percent of teens respond to a text message at least once every time they drive, even though 38 states and D.C ban all cell phone use by novice drivers.

Five states—Alabama, Arizona, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas—enacted legislation concerning teen drivers and distraction, mostly centered on increased penalties and more driver’s education targeted towards distraction.

Alabama’s new legislation makes cell phone use by drivers with a learner’s license or restricted regular license while driving a primary offense. The law also modifies the penalties for a violation of this provision. The law requires defensive driving school for a first offense and authorizes a fine between $150 and $250 for a second or subsequent offense. A violation results in two points against a driver’s license.

Arizona’s new law prohibits cell phone use by a driver with an instruction permit while driving and makes it a secondary offense. It also prohibits drivers under 18 from using a cell phone except during an emergency or when using an audible turn-by-turn navigation system.

Tennessee’s law also makes it a delinquent act, subject to a $50 fine, for a minor to talk on a cell phone equipped with a hands-free device while driving. Texas makes it a misdemeanor for minors to use a phone while driving, subject to a fine of between $25 and $99 for a first violation and between $100 and $200 for subsequent offenses.

Oklahoma passed a bill this year requiring driver education courses to include information on the dangers of texting while driving and impaired driving. Texas requires the driver licensing examination to test the applicant’s knowledge of the effect of using a cell phone or engaging in other distracting activities on the safe operation of a vehicle.

Traffic Stop Education

Continuing a trend from the last few years, focus on the actions of law enforcement and young drivers during traffic stops has increased to prevent unnecessary tragedies. In 2016, Illinois was the first state to pass legislation requiring driver education courses to include instruction regarding law enforcement procedures during stops as well as a demonstration of the appropriate actions for drivers during a stop. A number of additional states passed similar legislation in 2017, including Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

Alaska’s new law requires motor vehicle instructional manuals to cover drivers’ rights and responsibilities when stopped by an officer. Arkansas also requires the written driver’s license test to include questions on stops. Texas’ new law requires traffic stops to be part of police training and public high school coursework. The curriculum must include the duties of police, the rights of the public, the proper actions for civilians and officers, how to file a complaint and more.

AAA released a resource in 2017, Getting Pulled Over: The Driving Instructor’s Guide to Interacting with Law Enforcement at the Roadside. The resource helps driver’s education instructors to educate students on what drivers should and should not do during a traffic stop.

Older Drivers

In 2016, 15.2 percent of the total U.S. resident population—approximately 49.5 million people—were 65 and older. According to data from FHWA, 41.7 million licensed drivers were age 65 or over in 2016. Additionally, in 2016, NHTSA reports that 6,764 people 65 and older were killed in traffic crashes. Older people accounted for 18 percent of all traffic fatalities. While older drivers have lower rates of crashes reported to the police, the likelihood of a crash being fatal increases after age 70, probably largely due to increasing frailty and fragility.

Older drivers use seat belts, rarely speed and are less likely than other age groups to drive while impaired. Females are more likely than males to self-restrict driving as they age: they are more likely to limit drives to familiar and lower speed routes, not drive in inclement weather, at night or in heavy traffic. On the other hand, AAA notes that age-related decline in vision, hearing and cognitive functioning, along with physical changes, may affect driving ability. In addition, older drivers are more likely to become seriously injured in a crash due to increased frailty, and more likely to have long-term implications or death from their injury due to increased fragility (less likely to recover from a serious injury).  Medical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, may make it more difficult for older drivers to heal from a traffic crash-related injury. 

A 2017 study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety examined older drivers’ use and attitudes toward in-vehicle technologies and aftermarket vehicle adaptations that make driving safer. Researchers found that 57 percent of vehicles driven by study participants had in-vehicle technologies such as voice-control, blind spot and lane departure warnings, navigation assistance systems and adaptive cruise control. About 70 percent of participants claimed that these in-vehicle technologies made them safer drivers while 19 percent claimed these technologies did not make them safer drivers. 

NHTSA conducted a July 2017 study looking at older-driver foot movements and how drivers 60 and older control the accelerator and brake pedals while driving and parking. Researchers found that stature and length of one’s tibia and/or femur rather than medical status accounted for the majority of significant differences in foot movement while driving; drivers with shorter legs were more likely to lift their foot when moving from the brake to the accelerator while taller ones were more likely to pivot. When it came to parking, however, drivers with medical conditions scored significantly poorer than normally aging drivers. The study concludes that installing pedal extenders or power adjustable pedals can facilitate improved pedal control. 

In cooperation with NHTSA, the American Geriatrics Society provides the Clinician’s Guide to Assessing and Counseling Older Drivers, updated every three years. The guide helps health care providers assess older drivers at risk for crashes and counsel them on how to enhance driving safety. The guide also provides resources to help transition older people away from driving when necessary. 

State Legislation

While five states considered legislation addressing older drivers in 2017, North Dakota was the only state to enact legislation.

North Dakota enacted legislation allowing for non-commercial driver’s license applicants to renew a license electronically during every other renewal cycle. During this electronic renewal process, the director may use vision information provided by the applicant to meet the vision requirements of renewal. However, this provision only applies to applicants under the age of 65. For those 65 years of age and older, applicants must provide a certificate of examination from the driver’s licensing or examination authorities. Applicants over 65 can also provide a statement as to the corrected or uncorrected vision of the applicant from a licensed physician or optometrist.

States debated legislation on a range of other topics related to older drivers in 2017, but those bills have not been enacted.

Iowa considered legislation that would provide reduced automobile insurance premiums for older drivers. The premium reduction would be at least 10 percent for an insurance policy issued to someone 55 years and older who completed a certified driver safety course or a recertification course in the last three years.

For the fifth consecutive year, New York introduced legislation to establish a statewide “Yellow Dot” program in its Department of Transportation. The legislation is currently pending. States with a “Yellow Dot” program provide a bright yellow circle decal to drivers, including seniors, who sign up for the program. This decal, which is placed in the car’s back window, tells first responders to look for a “Yellow Dot” folder in the glove box that contains a photo and detailed medical information, including prescriptions, drug allergies, surgeries, the presence of pacemakers or other information that could affect emergency treatment. The nation’s first “Yellow Dot” program began in Connecticut in 2002. Currently, 22 states have implemented “Yellow Dot” Programs.

Another bill in New York would establish the Senior Driver Safety Commission. The commission would be assigned to study, examine and review the issues of senior driver safety and then evaluate the effectiveness of current laws and regulations regarding these issues, survey and assess the leading causes of senior driver car crashes, identify and analyze preventative measures that the state could implement and make regulatory and legislative recommendations to increase safety to all drivers.

Drivers Licensing

The states and the District of Columbia, according to the Federal Highway Administration, license more than 221 million drivers who represent roughly 85 percent of Americans eligible to drive. States have administered their driver's licensing systems since 1903 when Massachusetts and Missouri enacted the first state driver's licensing laws. Since 1959, all states have required an examination to test driving skills and traffic safety knowledge before a license is issued. 

Testing drivers and issuing licenses, however, no longer is the sole concern of state licensing agencies.  Because the driver's license now serves a role beyond traffic safety—where both government and private entities rely on it for personal identification—state legislatures and driver's license agencies are concerned about the safety and security of using the license as an identifier. 

State Legislation

In 2017, state legislatures debated numerous bills related to various aspects of driver's licensing, including suspensions, revocations and reinstatements, medical conditions and tests and education. 

License Suspensions, Revocations and Reinstatements

Three states, Colorado, Georgia and Maryland, passed bills in 2017 regarding license suspensions related to traffic safety issues.

In 2017, Colorado passed a bill giving the Department of Revenue the power to suspend an individual’s driver’s license for leaving the scene of a car accident that resulted in the serious bodily injury or the death of another. The Department shall determine if it is more likely than not that the individual left the scene based upon the officer’s affidavit and a copy of the citation and complaint filed with the court before a license can be suspended. 

Georgia enacted two bills regarding license suspensions as well. In Georgia, an individual can have their license suspended if they fail to appear in court for a uniform traffic citation. The license will remain suspended until the clerk of court notifies driver services that the charge against the accused is adjudicated, proof of the adjudication is submitted and a restoration fee is paid.

Georgia passed a second bill in 2017 affecting drivers convicted of operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If an individual in Georgia has a third or subsequent conviction of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they will be considered habitual violators and their license will be revoked.

Maryland also put a provision into law in 2017 that would allow the Motor Vehicle Administration to suspend a driver’s license for failure to complete a driver improvement program. If a driver is convicted of one or more moving violations in Maryland, they must attend a driver improvement program. If the individual fails to attend this driver improvement program, an alcohol education program required under section 16-212 or a private alternative program, the administration may suspend that individual’s driver’s license.

Medical Conditions and Driver’s Licenses

Five states addressed medical conditions that affect driving via 2017 state legislation: Alabama, North Carolina, Kansas, South Carolina and Texas. These five states addressed two different medical conditions: individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and individuals with autism spectrum disorder.

Alabama and North Carolina both addressed how those who are deaf or hard of hearing can indicate this through their driver’s license or related records.

Now, in Alabama, anyone who applies for or renews a driver’s license, nondriver ID card, vessel license, or a learner’s license or permit may also provide documentation of deafness to the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency. This information will then be stored in records of the agency and law enforcement personnel will have access to this information for use during their official duties.

The Division of Motor Vehicles in North Carolina will now, at the request of someone who is deaf or hard of hearing, put a unique symbol on the front of the individual’s driver’s license. An individual would need to provide proof that they are deaf or hard of hearing via documentation substantiating their hearing loss that is recommended by the Division of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing as acceptable.

Kansas, South Carolina and Texas’s 2017 legislation addressed drivers who need assistance with cognition and autism.

Kansas now allows anyone who needs assistance with cognition, like those with autism spectrum disorder, to request that the division of vehicles issue the person a driver’s license that indicates the impairment. The individual must submit satisfactory proof of their impairment to the director of vehicles. Satisfactory proof includes a statement from an individual licensed to practice the healing arts in any state, an advanced practice registered nurse, a licensed physician’s assistant, or someone licensed by Kansas behavioral science regulatory board certifying that the individual needs assistance with cognition.

South Carolina passed a bill in 2017 allowing all driver’s license applicants to voluntarily disclose that they are autistic. This information could be indicated on their driver’s license via a symbol. The applicant must provide documentation that they are autistic from a physician licensed in South Carolina.

Texas’s 2017 legislation will allow the Department of Public Safety to make informational materials and videos regarding driving with autism publicly accessible and available at a driver’s license office. 

Driver’s Test and Educational Requirements

In 2017, Kentucky mandated that drivers under the age of 18 must enroll in a driver education course. 

Speeding and Speed Limits

In 2016, 10,111 traffic fatalities occurred in speeding-related crashes, a 4 percent increase from 9,723 in 2015. Speeding was a factor in 27 percent of motor vehicle fatalities in 2016 and has been implicated in more than 25 percent of crash deaths since 2007 according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The latest NHTSA speeding statistics also showed that the age group with the highest percentage of speeders involved in fatal crashes in 2016 were 15- to 20-year-old male drivers, with a rate of 32 percent. Thirty-three percent of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2016 were speeding, more than drivers of any other vehicle type. NHTSA additionally found that, in 2016, 37 percent of speeding drivers in fatal crashes were alcohol impaired. 

NHTSA considers a crash to be speeding-related if the driver was charged with a speeding-related offense or if a police officer indicated that racing, driving too fast for conditions or exceeding the posted speed limit was a contributing factor in the crash. AAA’s 2016 Traffic Safety Culture Index reported that nearly half of drivers have recently sped excessively on residential streets (>10 mph over posted speed) and freeways (>15 mph over posted speed) in the past month. Further, nearly a quarter of respondents found it socially acceptable to excessively speed on freeways compared to only 12 percent who said the same for residential streets.

In 1995, Congress repealed the maximum speed limit of 55 mph, which had been established in the early 1970s, and the states have been given more power to set maximum speed limits. Since then, 41 states have set speed limits of 70 mph or higher on some portion of their roadway systems. In April 2016, IIHS released a new study evaluating the impact of increased speed limits. It found that increased speed limits have resulted in more than 33,000 additional traffic deaths in the last 20 years. The study found that “each 5 mph increase in the maximum speed limit resulted in a 4 percent increase in fatalities,” increasing to 8 percent on interstates and freeways. An additional IIHS study from October 2016—focusing on Utah’s 2010 and 2013 increases in speed limits on rural interstates to 80 mph—found, “the likelihood that a passenger vehicle was traveling over 80 mph within the 80 mph zones was more than 120 percent higher than would have been expected without the speed limit change.”

In December 2017, NHTSA released Matching Countermeasures to Driver Types and Speeding Behaviors which explores new speeding countermeasures targeted at various driver types and roadway scenarios. Also included are survey results from Idaho drivers on situational recall and self-reporting of behaviors. The results providing insight into driver perception of many countermeasures and “while there was no clear ‘silver bullet’ countermeasure identified in the survey, there are several promising findings, such as with the stopping-distance education and radar-based, roadside displays that could form a starting point for the development of more detailed countermeasure strategies.” A summary Traffic Tech document of this report was released in June 2017.

NHTSA released additional data analyses connected to that agency’s study regarding motivations for speeding in March 2016. The analyses found that incidental speeding was the most common type of speeding, where individuals went slightly over the limit for short periods of time. Casual speeding, where an individual was likely aware that they were speeding, was also relatively common. The study also identified four types of speeders: deliberate speeders, typical speeders, situational speeders and unintentional speeders.

State Legislation

In 2017, 38 states considered more than 150 bills related to speed limits. A total of 13 bills were enacted in 12 different states related to speed limits in passing situations, residential and work zones and local speed issues.

Arkansas increased the maximum allowable speed limit on “controlled-access highways” by 5 mph to 75 mph.

All states have laws requiring vehicles traveling slower than the normal speed of traffic to operate in the furthest right-hand lane available. This year, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Oklahoma all passed legislation regarding, to some degree, speed limits in passing zones or created exemptions on speed limits for passing situations on highways. Virginia strengthened its requirement to travel in the right-hand lane when not passing by establishing a new $100 fine for such a violation.

NHTSA notes that in 2016 only 14 percent of speeding-related fatalities occurred on interstate highways, meaning that many fatal crashes occur on city streets and in work zones. In 2017, the Oregon legislature enacted HB 2682, which enables the city of Portland too, by ordinance, lower the designated speed by 5 mph lower than otherwise statutorily allowed on highways located in residential districts. Previously, before lowering the speed limit, Portland had to determine that the streets had a traffic volume of fewer than 2,000 motor vehicles per day, with more than 85 percent traveling less than 30 miles per hour, as well as ensure there was a traffic control device on the highway that indicated the presence of pedestrians or bicyclists. The new law does not apply to arterial highways and requires giving notice of the designated speed at each end of the portion of the highway where the designated speed is imposed and other locations as necessary.

Additionally, New York authorized the town of Malta in Saratoga County to reduce speed limits to no lower than 25 mph on certain highways within the town.

South Carolina passed legislation replacing their speeding-in-a-work-zone violation with a more general endangerment of a highway worker violation, creating an additional distinction for a violation where bodily harm is caused and raising penalties for endangerment of a highway worker. Montana’s work zone law provides that any traffic violation fine is doubled when the violation occurs in a work zone, however, they amended that law in 2017 to only have the doubled fine apply when a worker is present in the work zone at the time of the violation. 

Aggressive Drivers

Running red lights or stop signs, speeding, preventing other drivers from passing and illegal driving on the shoulder are examples of aggressive driving. NHTSA, in cooperation with law enforcement agencies, defines aggressive driving as occurring when “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.”

AAA’s Traffic Safety Culture Index for 2016 found that 45.6 percent of drivers admitted to exceeding speed limits by at least 15 mph in the past month. The survey found that 73.3 percent of drivers believe that aggressive drivers are a bigger problem today compared to three years ago and nearly 90 percent of drivers ranked “people driving aggressively” as a “very serious threat” or “somewhat serious threat” to their personal safety.

Each year, a handful of states debate legislation addressing aggressive driving. Several states have laws defining the offense of aggressive driving and establishing penalties. Eleven states—Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia—have aggressive driving laws. (Appendix G contains more information about state aggressive driving laws.) California and Utah have reckless driving laws that include behaviors similar to those other states classify as aggressive.

In Maryland, a driver must commit three specified offenses at the same time or in a continuous period of driving for his or her behavior to constitute aggressive driving. Maryland has considered legislation in each of the last three years to modify the law in some way. This year, legislation would have lowered the number of offenses to two if certain offenses were committed. That legislation did not pass.

New York considered legislation that would create the crime of aggressive driving but the legislation had not moved out of committee as of the time of publication. North Carolina considered two pieces of legislation regarding road rage in 2017. One bill would require the state Division of Motor Vehicles to study the issue of road rage in addition to distracted driving. The other would allow for an assault committed as an act of road rage to be considered as an aggravating factor during sentences. Both bills were still pending at the time of publication, though no action had been taken on either bill since they were introduced. 

Automated Enforcement

Motorists disobeying a red light is a dangerous yet common occurrence. According to IIHS, in 2015, crashes caused by red-light running resulted in 771 deaths and an estimated 137,000 injuries. Data shows that more than half of the fatalities were to people other than the drivers making the infraction—including bicyclists, pedestrians, passengers or other motorists.

Highway photo showing traffic cameras posted on an overpass.Automated enforcement technology—red light cameras and photo radar—allow local law enforcement agencies to enforce traffic laws remotely by detecting motorists who violate traffic regulations. Red light cameras are linked to traffic signals and monitor the green, yellow and red phases of traffic lights. When a motorist drives through an intersection after the signal has turned red, sensors trigger the cameras to take two photographs—one of the vehicles entering the intersection while the light is red, and one showing the vehicle traveling through the intersection on a red light.

Photo radar functions are similar. Typically housed within a mobile unit such as a van or truck, the photo radar system is equipped with both speed detection devices and cameras. Once a speeding vehicle is detected, the camera is triggered. The photos, stamped with the date and time, are used to identify the vehicle owner and tickets are issued.

Results of studies on the effectiveness of automated enforcement vary, but mostly show a positive impact on traffic safety. A study from Northwestern University conducted for the city of Chicago, which has one of the nation’s largest red-light camera programs, found that red light cameras have resulted in decreases in overall injury crashes (by 10 percent) and angle injury crashes (by 19 percent). However, intersections with cameras did have an increased amount of rear-end injury crashes (by 14 percent). Typically rear-end crashes do tend to be less severe than angle crashes. Other studies have noted that red-light cameras may increase rear-end crashes; however, overall they tend to lead to an overall decrease in the number and severity of crashes.

Additionally, a 2016 IIHS report showed that removing red-light cameras from intersections actually cost lives. Researchers compared trends in annual crash rates in 14 cities that had ended their camera programs with those in 29 cities in the same regions that continued their programs. They found that, after adjusting for other factors, red-light-running crashes increased by 30 percent at intersections where cameras were removed. The study estimated that 63 deaths would have been prevented in the 14 cities if they had not turned off their cameras. 

IIHS has also studied the effectiveness of speed cameras. In 2015, more than a quarter of motor vehicle fatalities—9,000 deaths—occurred in crashes where speed was a factor. In an August 2017 study, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) called for a renewed focus on speeding noting that in the decade from 2005-2014, speeding contributed to more than 112,500 deaths. The NTSB encouraged increased use of speed cameras and for “high-visibility enforcement.”

IIHS has found positive impacts from speed cameras. Speed cameras were introduced in Montgomery County, Md., in 2007. As of 2014, the county had 56 fixed cameras, 30 portable cameras and six mobile speed vans; the cameras are used on residential streets with speed limits of 35 mph or less and in school zones. IIHS found that, during the program’s first year, the proportion of drivers traveling at least 10 mph over the speed limit had declined on streets with cameras. Researchers found that in 2014 the camera programs had reduced by 59 percent the likelihood of a driver exceeding the speed limit by more than 10 mph, compared with similar roads in two nearby Virginia counties that do not have speed cameras. The researchers also looked at crashes on camera-eligible roads in Montgomery County and compared them to other similar roads in Virginia. They found that the camera program resulted in a 19 percent reduction in the likelihood that a crash would involve a fatality or an incapacitating injury, as reported by a police officer on the scene.

Politically, red-light and speed cameras remain controversial. Opponents of the programs point to recent bribery-for-contract scandals in Chicago and Florida to argue they are corrupt and designed to bring in revenue to cash-strapped cities. While still being launched in some places, the total number of communities with red-light cameras fell to 422 in 2017, down from 430 in 2016 and from the peak of 533 in 2012. Speed cameras are less prevalent, according to IIHS, as of February 2018, 143 communities (and 14 states) utilize them.

City and local governments in 23 states— Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington—and the District of Columbia use red-light cameras. In most cases, state legislatures have passed enabling statutes with specific provisions to allow local governments to develop red-light camera programs. No state law exists in Iowa and Missouri, but local communities have chosen to develop programs. In New Mexico, NMDOT has banned red light cameras on state and federal roadways but they are allowed to be used by local governments under some circumstances. 

Communities in 14 states—Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington—and the District of Columbia use speed cameras. Although Iowa and Ohio have no specific statutes, cameras are used in certain cities. Some states prohibit the use of automated enforcement altogether. Arkansas, New Jersey, South Carolina and Wisconsin prohibit photo radar enforcement. South Carolina law provides a narrow exception that speed enforcement cameras can be used in a state of emergency. In Texas, municipalities are prohibited from using automated enforcement to enforce speed. Statutes in Maine, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia prohibit red light camera use to issue citations to motorists. Nevada effectively prohibits red-light camera programs because their laws require law-enforcement personnel to be present if cameras are used.

State Legislation

Twenty-four states considered 85 bills related to red light and speed cameras in 2017. However, only two states enacted such legislation. Louisiana (SB 154) established a new requirement for local authorities to post signage indicating a mobile speed camera is being used. The signs, which must be placed between 250 and 500 feet of the speed camera, must be clearly visible and unobstructed. Under the new law, the use of speed cameras is prohibited without proper signage.

Oregon (HB 2409) will now allow cities and localities to use automated enforcement technologies for speed violations (previously only allowed for traffic signal violations). The new provisions included requirements on signage, delivery of the citations, police officer involvement and a speed requirement, that the motorist must be exceeding the posted speed limit by at least 11 miles per hour.

Federal Action

The FAST Act discusses automated enforcement in Title 23, Sections 148 and 402. Under federal law, states are prohibited from using federal funds from the Highway Safety Improvement Program and the Highway Safety Grant Program to purchase, operate or maintain automated traffic-enforcement cameras, except for those located in school zones. Further, every two years, states with automated-enforcement systems are required to compile a list of automated-enforcement systems in the state; data to measure transparency, accountability and safety, and a comparison of their systems to earlier Department of Transportation guidelines on automated red-light-running enforcement programs. These requirements will take effect in fiscal year 2018.

Motorcyclist Safety

According to the latest numbers from the U.S. DOT's Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there were over 8.6 million registered motorcycles in the country in 2015, an increase from 2014 and an all-time high number of registrations.

Man walking towards his motorcycle with helmet in hand. The latest data from NHTSA shows motorcyclist fatalities increased between 2015 and 2016 by 5.1 percent, from 5,029 in 2015 to 5,286 in 2016. This increase was slightly lower than the overall traffic fatality percentage increase of 5.6 percent from 2015 to 2016. This was the highest number of motorcyclist deaths since 5,312 in 2008. The proportion of overall traffic fatalities that were motorcyclists increased from 13 percent in 2015 to 14 percent in 2016.

A quarter of the 4,950 people operating motorcycles that were killed in 2016 in traffic crashes had a BAC of over .08. The number of motorcycle drivers involved in alcohol related crashes stayed largely the same as 2015, going from 1,350 in 2015 to 1,351 in 2016.

Quite notably, and part of an overall trend towards more older Americans driving motorcyclists in larger numbers, motorcyclist fatalities for those over age 60 increased by 21.5 percent between 2015 and 2016, an increase of 156 fatalities, according to NHTSA’s latest data.

States with universal motorcycle helmet laws had far fewer unhelmeted fatalities (166) than states without such laws (1,923). NHTSA estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,859 motorcyclists in 2016.

The 2016 National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) found that the use of DOT-compliant motorcycle helmets increased between 2015 to 2016 with use at 60.7 percent and 65.3 percent, respectively, although that difference is not considered statistically significant. A DOT-compliant motorcycle helmet, for the purpose of this study, is a helmet meeting the safety requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218.

The NOPUS “is the only survey that provides nationwide probability-based observed data on motorcycle helmet use in the United States... The survey observes helmet use as it actually occurs at randomly selected roadway sites, and thus provides the best tracking of helmet use in this country."

At the time of the study, 19 states and the District of Columbia required all motorcyclists to wear helmets while three states, Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire, had no motorcycle helmet requirements.

Overall, the survey found that helmet use is significantly higher in the states that require all motorcyclists to wear helmets than in other states. Notably, the use of non-compliant helmets fell significantly for motorcyclists riding alone, from 11.8 percent in 2015 to 7.7 percent in 2016. The western states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming) saw a significant increase in helmet use from 2015 (74.8 percent) to 2016 (90.9 percent). Further, overall helmet use among motorcyclists traveling in medium speed traffic (31-50 mph) increased significantly in 2016 to 68.5 percent from 52.3 percent in 2015. It appears helmet use among motorcyclists is increasing overall, but 34.7 percent of motorcyclists were still not wearing DOT-compliant helmets according to the survey’s observations. 

Motorcycles and Ignition Interlocks

According to NHTSA, approximately 279,000 interlock devices were installed in the U.S. in 2012. However, only about .1 to .2 percent of those interlock devices were installed on motorcycles. With 30 percent of the motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes having blood alcohol levels at or above the legal limit (.08 g/dL or higher), it is important to examine the feasibility of a wider use of interlock devices on motorcycles. Therefore, NHTSA funded a study to examine the use of interlock devices on motorcycles.

Three major interlock manufacturers agreed that motorcycle interlocks are technically feasible, but the availability of interlock devices made for motorcycles is an issue. As of June 2017, only two manufacturers in the U.S. provide limited support for ignition interlocks on motorcycles. The other manufacturers do not allow the installation of interlock devices on motorcycles. Further, no interlock devices are designed specifically for motorcycles.

Motorcycles present several difficulties for interlock device installation including lack of secure storage, lack of protection from inclement weather, heavy vibration while driving a motorcycle, danger of retesting while driving, installation difficulties and battery usage. These issues make it more difficult to install an interlock device on motorcycles, keep the device running without killing the battery of the motorcycle and safely perform retests while driving, which interlock devices may require.

Though an interlock system specifically for motorcycles does not exist at this time, it does appear that the issues can be overcome, eventually allowing these devices to be used on motorcycles more often as appropriate. 

 

Motorcycle Helmets

No states enacted legislation regarding motorcycle helmet use in 2017, although a large number of states did introduce and consider legislation. Thus, another year of considerable debate but no action on the motorcycle helmet front.

Currently, 19 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands still require all riders to wear helmets. Another 28 states require helmet use for certain groups, typically those under age 21 or age 18. The helmet laws in Florida, Michigan and Texas exempt riders who carry a certain amount of insurance or who pass a safety course or both, despite evidence showing those exemptions have no safety benefit. Three states—Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire—do not have any helmet requirements. Louisiana weakened its motorcycle helmet use law in 1999 but reenacted it in 2004. It is the only state to do so in the past decade.

State Legislation

In 2017, state legislatures enacted a number of bills regarding motorcycle licensing, safety and education and operation and equipment.

Motorcycle Licensing, Safety and Education

In 2017, four states, California, Nevada, New York and Oregon, implemented legislation relating to motorcycle licensing, safety and education.

California passed legislation allowing the Department of Motor Vehicles to accept any certificate of satisfactory completion of an approved motorcyclist training program in lieu of a driving test for motorcycle license applications. For those under 21 years of age, the bill requires completion of a novice motorcycle safety training program for the issuance of a class M1 or M2 license or endorsement.

One of the Oregon bills passed in 2017 also discusses driving requirements for motorcycle endorsement or licensing applicants. This bill states that the Department of Transportation can waive the actual demonstration that is usually required of an applicant for a restricted motorcycle endorsement if the applicant is only authorized to drive a motorcycle with more than two wheels.  

In 2017, Nevada implemented new rules surrounding motorcycle licensing focusing on drivers between the ages of 15 ½ and 18. Now, anyone between the ages of 15 1/2 and 18 years may apply to the Department of Public Safety for a one-year motorcycle instruction permit. If someone is 18 years old or older and applies and receives a motorcycle instruction permit, this permit is valid for six months. These permits allow drivers to drive between sunrise and sunset and prohibit drivers from carrying any passengers or taking the motorcycle on a controlled-access highway. If an individual does need to take the motorcycle driving test and fails two or more times, they may not be issued an instruction permit.

Motorcycle operators 16 or 17 years of age who have held a motorcycle instruction permit and apply for a driver’s license that authorizes them to operate a motorcycle must: (1) complete a course of motorcycle safety; (2) have at least 50 hours of experience driving a motorcycle with an instruction permit and (3) submit to the Department of Public Safety a log containing dates and times of the hours of experience that is signed by applicant’s parents. The applicant is also not responsible for completing the written examinations for a motorcycle license if they already have the instruction permit, are at least 18 years old, have had the instruction permit for not less than six months and the instruction permit expired not more than 30 days before the application for a motorcycle driver’s license.

The second piece of 2017 legislation passed in Oregon changes the law of vehicular assault to include a person who, while recklessly operating a vehicle on the highway, comes into contact with a person operating a motorcycle, a passenger on a motorcycle, or a pedestrian.

Additionally, New York now includes a mandatory “Motorcycle Safety” awareness education component to its pre-licensing course. Therefore, Motorcycle Safety is now a prerequisite for obtaining a license to operate a motor vehicle in New York. 

Motorcycle Operation and Equipment

In 2017, Montana passed legislation applying to the operation of a motorcycle or quadricycle when the motorcycle is being operated on a paved highway. Montana law now states that if a motorcycle is operated on an unpaved highway, the driver shall operate the motorcycle or quadricycle in a reasonable and prudent manner. Further, a child who is at least 12 years of age may now operate a motorcycle or quadricycle on unpaved roads or highways. The individual must, however, be accompanied by an adult and the motorcycle or quadricycle must be operated in a reasonable and prudent manner 

In 2017, two states, Maryland and New Hampshire, passed legislation addressing regulations dealing with motorcycle handlebars. Maryland changed the maximum height of handlebars from 15 inches to 20 inches in height above the seat occupied by the driver of the motorcycle. New Hampshire removed the height restriction of handlebars and now prohibits the handlebars of a motorcycle to be improvised, defective or repaired.

Four states addressed motorcycle lighting requirements in 2017: Delaware, Kentucky, New Hampshire and Oklahoma.

Delaware amended its statute regarding LED ground effect lighting equipment on motorcycles. Delaware now requires that if a person operates a motorcycle equipped with LED ground effect lighting that the light must be a non-flashing amber or white light.

Kentucky now prohibits blue lights affixed to a motor vehicle; however, this kind of light on a motorcycle is not prohibited as long as it is not affixed to the front of the motorcycle. A motor vehicle, motorcycle, or moped shall only have headlamps that meet the US Department of Transportation regulations including nonhalogen headlamps that have a slight blue tint. A motorcycle shall not be retrofitted with a headlamp cover or film that changes the light color to anything other than white and any visible front light shall only be white or amber.

As of 2017, New Hampshire allows any headlamp color approved by the director for motor vehicles to be considered approved for motorcycles.

Oklahoma now allows a motorcycle to be equipped with, or an operator of a motorcycle to use, standard bulb running lights or light-emitting diode pods and strips. This lighting, however, must be nonblinking, nonflashing, nonoscillating and directed toward the engine and the drive train of the motorcycle.

Autocycles

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States continue to enact legislation defining “autocycles” and developing safety and equipment requirements necessary to operate these vehicles. In 2017, 11 states enacted legislation pertaining to autocycles: Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Ten of these states— Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Kentucky, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming, created or refined their autocycle statutory definition in 2017. For instance, New Mexico now defines an autocycle as “a three-wheeled motorcycle on which the driver and all passengers ride in a completely or partially enclosed seating area and that is manufactured to comply with all applicable federal standards, regulation and laws and is equipped with: (1) non-straddle seating; (2) rollover protection; (3) safety belts for all occupants; (4) antilock brakes; (5) a steering wheel and (6) pedals.”

Most 2017 laws defining an autocycle included similar equipment requirements. Indiana, however, did create a provision in 2017 exempting autocycles manufactured before July 1, 2015, from the antilock brakes requirement.  There are now a total of 37 states across the nation that have statutorily defined "autocycle.”

US map showing states that have autocycle laws.

In 2017, Colorado, Hawaii, Kentucky, Oregon, West Virginia and Wyoming joined 31 other states— Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas (drivers over the age of 18), California, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia—that do not require a motorcycle endorsement on the driver’s license to operate an autocycle. A standard operator’s license is all that is needed to drive an autocycle in these states.

Though most states require seatbelts in autocycles, other autocycle safety requirements vary across the U.S. For instance, starting in 2017, Hawaii now requires drivers to wear eye protection if there is no front windshield in the autocycle. On the other hand, Kentucky and West Virginia passed 2017 legislation exempting operators of autocycles from wearing protective headgear. In 2017, Arkansas looked at protections in autocycles for children. Arkansas now requires an autocycle to have a fully-enclosed metal or metal-enforced cab with glass and mirrors made with safety glass before a child is allowed to ride in the autocycle. Arkansas further requires that this type of cab, glass and mirrors must be in place for the operator of the autocycle to be exempt from wearing protective headwear and eyewear. 

School Bus Safety

School buses transport more than 25 million children to and from school each year, according to the American School Bus Council. Buses travel approximately 5.7 billion miles annually and students are 70 times more likely to arrive at school alive when they take the bus according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). From 2007 to 2016, 281 school-age (18 and younger) children died in school transportation related crashes. 58 of those children were in school transportation vehicles.

As an update to 2016 school bus safety legislation, the report requested by the Louisiana legislature in 2016 to “study and make recommendations regarding student transportation and school bus passenger safety” was released in February 2017. The report concluded that seat belts should not be mandated for school buses in the state but if they are, the legislature should appropriate funding to install three-point seat belts and to have a school bus attendant for every bus with seat belts. The report also recommended that driver education include information on state laws addressing when drivers must stop for school buses and that the use of passing cameras is encouraged to prevent illegal passing.

State Legislation

State legislatures saw a significant amount of debate regarding school bus safety in 2017. States continue to consider legislation that would increase the safety of passengers on school buses. Far and away, the most legislative activity this year relating to school bus safety involved seat belts on school buses. There was also a great deal of legislation regarding school bus passing laws.

Seat Belts on School Buses

School buses are the safest form of transportation to school for children. NHTSA has mandated a number of safety standards that must be met for school buses in order to ensure this remains the case. Those safety standards do not include a requirement that school buses have seat belts for the passengers on the bus.

In November 2016, six young students were killed in a school bus crash in Chattanooga, Tenn. The crash received a great deal of national media attention and resulted in increased legislative attention around the topic of seat belts on school buses. In most years, approximately 10 states consider legislation in some way addressing seat belts on school buses. This year, that number approached 30.

Tennessee considered a number of bills related to school bus safety in the 2017 legislative session following the crash, including some that would require seat belts on school buses but most of the bills were not enacted, with the exception of a school bus driver bill described below.

In 2017, Arkansas and Nevada joined California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Texas as states that have passed some variation of a seat belt law for school buses.

The Arkansas law requires that school buses purchased on or after Jan. 1, 2018 be equipped with a passenger restraint system if the following occurs: a petition requesting seat belts on school buses is signed by at least 10 percent of a school district’s qualified electors and submitted to the district, then the district proposes an additional property tax to cover the cost of the seat belts, then the proposal is voted on at the annual school election. The law requires that if a student rides on a bus with seat belts, the student must use the seat belts. It also allows a district to implement a disciplinary policy to enforce this requirement.

Nevada’s law requires that buses purchased after July 1, 2019, be equipped with three-point seat belts.

Texas has a law requiring that three-point seat belts be installed in school buses. However, that law was contingent on the legislature appropriating funds for the costs. This year, the legislature removed the language that tied the requirement to appropriations, thereby putting it into effect without funds being appropriated by the legislature. Buses that are model years 2018 or later must have seat belts unless the board of trustees for the school district determines that the district’s budget does not allow it to purchase a bus equipped with seat belts.

New Hampshire enacted legislation establishing a committee to study requiring passengers on school buses to wear seat belts. 

Illegal Passing of School Buses

A school bus stopped with lights flashing indicates students are getting on or off of the bus. Boarding and exiting the bus put students most at risk of injury or death because drivers may ignore or don’t understand laws requiring them to stop for school buses.

An annual survey of school bus drivers organized by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services is charged with collecting first-hand information to help understand the prevalence of illegally passing school buses. In 2017, more than 104,000 school bus drivers observed 77,972 vehicles illegally passing school buses in a single day. At that rate, more than 14 million violations would occur in a school year. From 2006-2015, 102 pedestrians under 18 were killed in school-transportation related crashes.

Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming have laws allowing the use of cameras on school bus stop-arms in order to capture images of motorists that illegally pass stopped school buses. The laws in Arkansas and Utah were enacted this year. A number of other states considered legislation on school bus cameras this year, including Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas, but none of those bills were enacted.

The new Arkansas law allows the use of automated school bus safety cameras by public school districts or open-enrollment public charter schools. Utah’s legislation allows the use of school bus passing cameras by a school district or private school. The law specifies that 20 percent of any fine collected for a violation is to be used to offset the cost of the operation of the cameras.

US map showing school bus safety laws.

North Carolina passed legislation allowing the use of images captured by passing cameras to be used for civil violations. Before the enactment of this legislation, images captured by the cameras could only be used for criminal proceedings. The civil penalty for passing is set at $400 for the first offense, $750 for the second and $1,000 for each subsequent violation.

Florida passed legislation to allow a court to mandate a driver who causes serious bodily injury or death when passing a stopped school bus to serve 120 hours of community service in a trauma center or hospital that regularly treats victims of vehicle crashes and to participate in a victim’s impact panel or attend a driver improvement course relating to the rights of vulnerable road users. It also sets the penalty at $1,500 for causing serious bodily injury or death by illegally passing a school bus and increases it to a six-point offense.

Illinois’ new law requires the revocation of a driver’s license when someone illegally passes a school bus and the violation leads to a motor vehicle crash resulting in death. Maryland increased the penalty for illegally passing a school bus from $250 to $500. The law also requires that Montgomery County report to the legislature the number of violations recorded by school bus monitoring cameras after the effective date of the new penalty legislation.

South Dakota modified the school bus passing law to require that vehicles on a road with less than two lanes slow to no more than 15 miles per hour to pass a school bus that has its amber warning lights flashing and must stop if the bus has its red signal lights flashing. If the road has more than two lanes in each direction and the bus is traveling the opposite direction, the vehicle operator does not need to slow or stop. 

School Bus Drivers

States also debated legislation addressing the training, licensing and behaviors of school bus drivers. Tennessee enacted legislation requiring that new school bus drivers complete a training program and that they be at least 25 years old. The driver in the fatal Chattanooga crash was 24 years old at the time.

Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety

Pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities both increased again in 2016 on the heels of significant increases in 2015 as well. According to the most recent data from NHTSA, the deaths were the most in a year since 1990 for pedestrians and 1991 for bicyclists. 

Pedestrian deaths increased by 9 percent between 2015 and 2016; this was the largest increase for any group and came on top of a 9.5 percent increase between 2014 and 2015. It’s important to note that overall traffic fatalities increased 5.6 percent between 2015 and 2016. Nearly 6,000 (5,987) Americans lost their lives while walking in 2016; 48 percent of these deaths involved alcohol use by the driver and/or pedestrian.

Bicyclist fatalities increased more slowly but still reached an almost 30-year peak. NHTSA’s latest statistics show there were 840 bicyclist traffic deaths in 2016, compared to 829 in 2015, an increase of 1.3 percent. The proportion of traffic fatalities that are nonoccupants (which includes pedestrians and bicyclists) has increased from 13 percent of traffic deaths in 2007 to 18 percent in 2016. This dynamic is likely a combination of a few factors, including increased trips by foot and bike, improvements in vehicle safety leading to decreases or smaller increases in motor vehicle deaths and a resurgence of vehicle miles traveled by motorists. 

The percentage of fatally injured pedestrians that had any amount of alcohol in their system stayed relatively static at 39 percent in 2016 as compared to 40 percent in 2015. 33 percent of pedestrians and 22 percent of bicyclists killed in 2015 (over age 16) had a BAC of .08 or higher.

State Legislation

2017 was a fairly active year for new laws regarding bicyclist and pedestrian safety. These included laws regarding: “Idaho Stops,” safe bicycle passing, the creation and expansion of trails and bicyclist safety task forces, pedestrian safety, vulnerable users and school safety.

Idaho Stop Law

Photo showing pedestrian crosswalk and bicycle path.Probably the most newsworthy piece of legislation related to bicycling enacted in 2017 was Delaware’s adoption of a limited “Idaho Stop” law. Delaware became the second state to enable bicyclists to yield, not stop, at stop signs, when Governor John Carney signed House Bill 185 into law. Such a rolling stop is known as an “Idaho Stop,” as Idaho has allowed bicyclists to roll through stop signs since 1982 as long as they yield the right of way as necessary.

Notably, Idaho’s law was amended in 2005 to also allow bicyclists to fully stop, yield to any oncoming traffic and then proceed through a stoplight as well. However, Delaware’s new law only applies to stop signs and only on roads with two or fewer traffic lanes. 

Bicyclist advocates typically, but not universally, support Idaho Stop laws as a way to legalize typical riding behavior and reduce the arduous task of stopping and then restarting and regaining momentum when riding. They also tout the 35-year track record in Idaho with no difference in overall bike crash trends. Bicycling injuries in Idaho actually declined 14.5 percent the year after the law was changed and there have been no negative safety impacts documented since. Many cyclists already utilize an Idaho Stop when cycling. A recent study from DePaul University observed riders in the Chicago area and found that only 1-in-25 cyclists came to a complete stop.

However, those opposed to Idaho Stops dispute the safety claims and claim an Idaho Stop leads to more unsafe situations and unfairly advantages bicyclists at the expense of other road users. In many instances, law enforcement is opposed to Idaho Stops, but, notably, the Delaware State Police supported the bill, with some revisions and amendments.

Idaho Stops have been slow to gain traction, with only a few local governments in Colorado adopting similar ordinances. However, 2017 saw comparatively a lot of action on this front at statehouses, with Arkansas, California, Colorado and Oklahoma all debating such measures. California’s bill, AB 1103, is still active, although it has since been amended to be a pilot program for three municipalities that opt-in. Colorado’s bill, SB 93, successfully passed the House and was stopped short of the full Senate by a 3-2 vote in the Senate Transportation committee.

Safe Bicycle Passing

Illinois revised its safe bicycle passing law to clarify that a driver may pass a bicyclist in a no-passing zone, provided: the bicyclist is travelling at less than half the posted speed; the driver is able to pass without exceeding the speed limit and there is sufficient distance to the left of the centerline for the motor vehicle to overtake and pass the bicyclist.

No states created new safe passing laws in 2017. Pennsylvania has a 4-foot passing law and South Dakota’s two-tiered passing law includes a 3-foot passing requirement on roads with posted speeds of 35 mph or less and a minimum of 6 feet separation for roads with speed limits greater than 35 mph. There are still 27 states with 3-foot passing laws, while North Carolina has a 2-foot passing requirement for motorists and also allows passing in a no-pass zone if a motorist leaves 4-foot clearance. 

Trails and Bicyclist Safety Task Forces

Four states—Indiana, Maryland, Montana and Washington—took steps to strengthen their trail systems and increase safety for bicyclists by establishing study committees or task forces in 2017.

Indiana established a bicycle trails task force to develop actionable concepts to connect existing bicycle trails throughout Indiana. The task force must then: estimate the costs; present at least six innovative ways to fund the needed bicycle trail connections and prepare a timeline for completion of the connections for each funding mechanism. The task force also shall recommend changes to Indiana law to increase bicycle safety on trails and roadways. The task force must submit a report to the legislative council and governor by July 1, 2019.

Maryland established the Task Force to Study Bicycle Safety on Maryland Highways. The bill lays out the membership of the task force, which must include two members of the Maryland Senate and House respectively that are appointed by presiding leadership, as well as transportation, bicycling and law enforcement stakeholders. The task force must study and make recommendations to the General Assembly and the Governor. Study topics include: the appropriate operation of bicycles on highways and of motor vehicles in relation to bicycles on highways; past, current and future implementation of Complete Streets strategies; public education and outreach related to the operation of bicycles on highways in Maryland; potential funding sources to support and encourage the safe operation of bicycles and the effects of bike lanes, bike paths and protected cycle tracks on-street parking and pedestrian and vehicular traffic flow; amongst other topics.

Montana created an optional $5 fee on light vehicles to fund maintenance and repair of shared use paths. 20 percent of the total must be allocated to the Department of Transportation to be used for bicycle and pedestrian education. The remaining 80 percent is for maintenance and repair of shared-use paths. Additionally, the bill stipulates the department must maintain an inventory of all shared-use paths located in the right-of-way of each state-maintained federal-aid highway in Montana, as well as maintain a plan for maintenance and repair of all the shared-use paths.

In Washington, the legislature tasked the previously established Cooper Jones Bicyclists Safety Advisory Council with reviewing best practices to reduce and eventually eliminate bicycle-related injuries and fatalities and work towards Washington state’s adoption of Target Zero. By Dec. 31 of each year, the council must issue an annual report detailing any findings and recommendations to the governor and the transportation committees of the legislature.

Pedestrian Safety

A few states enacted measures regarding pedestrian safety in 2017. In Idaho, the legislature added children pedestrian safety as one of the categories eligible for funding through the strategic initiatives program, which serves the purpose of funding transportation projects that are proposed by the departments six districts and local units of government. 

California changed its law to allow a pedestrian to cross a signalized intersection if the “Don’t Walk” or “Wait” signal is flashing, as long as they complete their crossing before a steady “Don’t Walk” or “Wait” signal is displayed.

The New York Legislature directed New York City’s Department of Transportation to study and report on its current and planned efforts to educate pedestrians and drivers relating to being distracted while using a mobile device. The report must contain recommendations on how to prevent motor vehicle crashes that involve pedestrians using a mobile device and be submitted to the legislature, mayor of New York City and New York’s governor. 

Illinois amended its Pedestrians with Disabilities Safety Act to clarify that walking, running, or bicycle paths are included in the type of infrastructure people with disabilities may be traveling upon. 

Vulnerable users

Delaware established the offense of operation of a vehicle causing serious physical injury to a vulnerable user. This offense applies if someone engages in careless or inattentive driving and seriously injures someone defined as a vulnerable user, which includes pedestrians, workers in a work zone, bicyclists and motorcyclists, among others. The offense results in a fine of $550, license suspension for up to one year, a requirement to complete a traffic safety course and a requirement for between 10 and 100 hours of community service. The court may suspend the fine and license suspension and dismiss them if the other requirements are successfully completed.

School Bicyclist and Pedestrian Safety

A few states took steps to study and address school pedestrian and bicyclist safety in 2017 with enacted legislation.

The Florida legislature directed the Florida Department of Transportation to evaluate the viability and cost of a uniform system of high-visibility markings and signage for designation of safe school crossing on certain roads within a mile radius of schools, in order to designate safe school crossing locations. The DOT can consider new technology or innovations that enhance pedestrian and crosswalk visibility and must have reported their findings and any safe school crossing legislative recommendations to the governor, Senate president and speaker of the House by Jan. 1, 2018.

The report recommended a “tiered” approach, given a large number of school crossings (over 200,000) within one mile of a school in the state.  Tier 1 recommendations involve evaluating existing crosswalks to ensure compliance with visibility standards for signage and pavement markings, as many of the crosswalks in the state suffer from wear diluting their visibility and signage is not always standardized. Tier 2 recommendations focus on potentially developing new statewide standards for roads that are not under Florida DOT’s purview. Tier 3 recommendations involve studying and perhaps implementing new and innovative crosswalk features and coordinating with the statewide Traffic Engineering Research Laboratory.

In Maine, the legislature added detail regarding school crossing guard requirements. A guard may direct traffic if they are 18 years of age or older, are working under the control of a local law enforcement entity, have completed the required training, are wearing the appropriate uniform and are directing traffic at a marked crosswalk. The new law also clarifies that a motor vehicle operator must obey a hand signal or handheld traffic control device of a school crossing guard and can be charged with a  traffic infraction otherwise. However, a school crossing guard cannot contradict or override a lighted traffic control device or pedestrian control device. 

2017 State Electric Bicycle Laws

As electric bicycles (e-bikes) become more common in the U.S, state legislatures continue to enact legislation that regulates e-bike equipment and their operations on trails and roadways. The states of Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois and Michigan all enacted rather comprehensive e-bike legislation in 2017, some of which tweaked existing e-bike law. These laws in part seek to differentiate between electric bicycles and motorized vehicles such as mopeds and scooters, set standards for e-bike top speeds and clear up where e-bikes can be operated and by whom. Meanwhile, Utah slightly amended its helmet requirements for e-bikes.

Definitions and Classifications

Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois and Michigan’s laws use virtually the same definition and classification structure to define electric bicycles and their technical specifications. All of them defined an electric bicycle as a bicycle that has fully operable pedals and has an electric motor that does not exceed 750 watts. Each state established a three-tiered electric bike classification system, joining California, Tennessee and Utah as the seven states with such a classification system. This system helps differentiate e-bikes with varying speed and capabilities. Notably, Illinois’ law required Class 3 low-speed bicycles to be equipped with a speedometer.

Colorado’s new language is fairly representative of the approaches the four states took regarding their three-tiered classification structure: 

CO HB 1151 (2017)

Class 1      Electrical assisted bicycle      A bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches 20 mph.

Class 2      Electrical assisted bicycle      A bicycle equipped with a motor that propels the bicycle with or without pedaling and ceases to provide power when the bicycle reaches 20 mph.

Class 3      Electrical assisted bicycle      A bicycle that provides power only when the rider is pedaling and ceases to assist when the rider reaches 28 mph.

The 2017 laws were also fairly similar in the manner in which they granted authority to local municipalities and their jurisdictional regulatory agencies to permit or deny where electric bicycles can be operated. In general, states are moving more towards an opt-out model where class 1 and 2 e-bikes are allowed on paths and trails unless the local governing authority decides otherwise.

Woman on an electric bicycle. Arkansas and Colorado allow the operation of class 1 and 2 e-bikes on paths unless the local authority expressly prohibits electric bicycles on these paths. However, both states deign that a class 3 e-bike may not be operated on a path unless it is adjacent to a highway or roadway, or the local authority must expressly authorize the operation of a class three e-bike on such a path. 

Illinois’ legislation does not single out class 3 e-bikes as needing special opt-in approval from local governments for path operations, it rather allows the operation of all classes of e-bikes on paths unless the local authorities prohibit their use or the use of a specific e-bike class.

Michigan’s law goes into further detail with regards to e-bikes’ operation on paths. A class 1 electric bicycle can be operated on a linear trail with an asphalt, limestone or similar surface, or a rail trail, unless the local authority prohibits class 1 electric bicycle on that trail. 

An individual may operate a class 2 or class 3 electric bicycle on a linear trail that has an asphalt, crushed limestone, or similar surface, or a rail trail, but must first be granted permission via the local authority or agency with jurisdiction over the trail. Similar front-end approval is needed from the local jurisdiction for an e-bike to operate on trails designated as non-motorized or containing natural surfaces.  The new Michigan laws also disallow operation of an e-bike within Mackinac Island State Park, unless the proper permit is obtained or the Mackinac Island State Park Commission authorizes their operation.

Equipment and Labeling Requirements

Another commonality among the four states’ laws is their requirement for permanently affixed labels displaying the wattage, top-assisted speed and classifications of the electric bicycles. All four states also forbid users from modifying their bikes without affixing a new label that displays the new specifications and classification tier of the electric bicycle.

Helmet and Age Requirements

Among the new 2017 e-bike laws, there is a bit of variance in terms of helmet requirements while operating an electric bicycle, as well as minimum ages to operate an e-bike. The age and helmet requirements of each bill are explicitly stated and applied to class 3 bicycles only.

The state of Arkansas now requires anyone under 21 operating a class 3 electric bicycle to wear a properly fitted helmet that meets or exceeds the safety standards for a standard bicycle helmet. Both Colorado and Michigan mandate helmet use for anyone under the age of 18 operating a class 3 e-bike. Illinois however, did not enact any helmet requirements.

Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois and Michigan did put in place age restrictions in order to operate a class 3 electric bicycle. Michigan has the youngest permitted age for class 3 electric bicycle operators at 14. Arkansas, Colorado and Illinois all set their limits for the operation of class 3 electric bicycle at 16. The age and helmet requirements of each bill are explicitly stated and applied to class 3 bicycles only. Utah refined its previously enacted e-bikes law by raising from age 18 to 21 the age at which a person must wear a helmet while operating a class 3 e-bike. 

Slow and Medium Speed Vehicles

State Legislation

In 2017, at least 23 states considered legislation related to slow- and medium-speed vehicles. Out of those 23 bills, 11 states enacted 14 pieces of legislation. Of these, nine bills authorized the use and regulation of low- and medium-speed vehicles on public roads.

Golf Carts

Six states—Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, South Dakota, Texas and Virginia—passed bills that addressed the operation of golf carts. Many of these bills expanded where golf carts can be operated. Some created and amended regulations regarding licensing and registration.

In Mississippi, three bills were enacted that authorized the use of golf carts in certain cities on public roads. Several other bills in Mississippi were introduced that would have allowed the use of golf carts on public roads in other select cities, however, those bills did not pass.

Indiana now requires any person operating a golf cart on public roads to have a driver’s license or be at least 16 years and 180 days old and have an identification card. In Maryland, legislation created an exception from registration requirements for golf carts in a certain community. Mississippi passed legislation requiring individuals operating a golf cart on public roads in Pascagoula to have either a valid driver’s license or temporary driver’s permit. South Dakota’s legislation requires a golf cart to be insured and the person operating the golf cart be licensed and in possession of a permit from the jurisdictional authority. The legislation also requires golf carts to display a slow-moving vehicle emblem. Texas authorized the use of golf carts as package delivery vehicles and specified vehicle regulations and requirements such as a $25 plate fee.

Mopeds

Five states passed bills that address the licensing, safety and insurance regulations surrounding the operation of mopeds. Delaware and Maine passed laws that require any person under the age of 18 operating or riding as a passenger on a moped to wear a helmet. South Carolina passed legislation that requires anyone under the age of 21 to wear a helmet while riding on or operating a moped.

Nevada’s legislation requires mopeds to be operated on the far right of the road unless making a left-hand turn. New Hampshire requires individuals operating mopeds to have either a valid driver’s license, a motorcycle license, or a restricted motorcycle license.

South Carolina now specifies that mopeds can be operated on public highways if the operator is 15 years of age or older and has a moped operator’s license. Individuals under 15 who are operating a moped alone may only do so during daylight hours. If that individual is operating a moped during nighttime hours, they must either be a passenger or within a safe viewing distance of a licensed operator who is at least 21 years old. Mopeds are limited to speeds of 35 mph unless on a public highway where the speed is limited to 55 mph. The law requires biennial registration for mopeds which includes a $10 registration fee and exempts mopeds from ignition interlock requirements. 

Crash Report Sampling System (CRSS) Replaces the National Automotive Sampling System (NASS) General Estimates System (GES)

NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) redesigned the nationally representative sample of police-reported traffic crashes, which estimates the number of police-reported injury and property-damage-only crashes in the United States. The new system, called CRSS, replaced NASS GES in 2016. However, the 2016 estimates are not currently available.

NHTSA is currently processing the file to ensure the data is accurate and complete and is finalizing the new weighting and calibration procedures to produce national estimates.  Once completed, NHTSA will release the data and publish the estimated number of police-reported injury and property-damage-only crashes that occurred during 2016.

 

Appendices

Appendix A

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Regional Offices

New England Region (Region 1) 
(Conn., Maine, Mass., N.H., R.I., Vt.)
Regional Administrator, NHTSA
Volpe National Transportation Systems Center 
55 Broadway
Code RTV-8E Cambridge, MA 02142
Phone: (617) 494-3427
Fax: (617) 494-3646
Email: Region1@dot.gov

Eastern Region (Region 2)
(N.Y., N.J., Pa., P.R., V.I.)
Regional Administrator, NHTSA 
245 Main St., Suite 210
White Plains, NY 10601 
Phone: (914) 682-6162
Fax: (914) 682-6239
Email: Region2@dot.gov
 


Mid-Atlantic Region (Region 3)
(Del., D.C., Ky., Md., N.C. Va., W.Va.)
Regional Administrator, NHTSA 
10 S. Howard St., Suite 6700
Baltimore, MD 21201
Phone: (410) 962-0066
Fax: (410) 962-2770
Email: Region3@dot.gov

 


Southeast Region (Region 4) 
(Ala., Fla., Ga., S.C., Tenn.) 
Regional Administrator, 
NHTSA Atlanta Federal Center
61 Forsyth St., S.W., Suite 17T30
Atlanta, GA 30303
Phone: (404) 562-3743
Fax: (404) 562-3763

Email: Region4@dot.gov
 


Great Lakes Region (Region 5)
(Ill., Ind., Mich., Minn., Ohio, Wis.) 
Regional Administrator, NHTSA
4749 Lincoln Mall Drive, Suite 300B 
Matteson, IL 60443-3800
Phone (708) 503-8822
Fax (708) 503-8991
Email: Region5@dot.gov
 

South Central Region (Region 6)
(La., Miss., N.M., Okla., Texas, Indian Nations) 
Regional Administrator, NHTSA
819 Taylor St., Room 8A38 
Fort Worth, TX 76102 
Phone: (817) 978-3653
Fax: (817) 978-8339
Email: Region6@dot.gov
 

Central Region (Region 7) 
Ark., Iowa, Kan., Mo., Neb.) 
Regional Administrator, NHTSA 
901 Locust St., Room 466 
Kansas City, MO 64106
Phone: (816) 329-3902
Fax: (816) 329-3910
Email: Region7@dot.gov
 

Rocky Mountain Region (Region 8)
(Colo., Nev., N.D., S.D., Utah, Wyo.) 
Regional Administrator, NHTSA 
12300 West Dakota Ave., Suite 140
Lakewood, CO 80228
Phone: (720) 963-3100
Fax: (720) 963-3124
Email: Region8@dot.gov
 

Western Region (Region 9)
(Ariz., Calif., Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands) 
Regional Administrator, NHTSA
John E. Moss Federal Building 
650 Capitol Mall, Suite 5-400 
San Francisco, CA 95814 
Phone: (916) 498-5058
Fax: (916)498-5047
Email: Region9@dot.gov
 

Northwest Region (Region 10) 
(Alaska, Idaho, Mont., Ore., Wash.) 
Regional Administrator, NHTSA 
3140 Jackson Federal Building
915 Second Ave., Suite 3140
Seattle, WA 98174
Phone: (206) 220-7645
Fax: (206) 220-7651
Email: Region10@dot.gov
 

Appendix B

Safety Belt Laws
STATE/JURISDICTION PRIMARY ENFORCEMENT WHO IS COVERED? IN WHAT SEATS? MAXIMUM FINE FIRST OFFENSE?
Alabama Yes Ages 15+ in front seat $25
Alaska Yes Ages 16+ in all seats $15
Arizona No Ages 8+ in front seat; ages 8 through 15 in all seats $10
Arkansas Yes Ages 15+ in front seat $25 (plus court costs and city/county jail fines)
California Yes Ages 16+ in all seats $20 ($20 fine + $142 in penalties and assessments)
Connecticut Yes Ages 8+ in front seat Ages 18 and younger: $92 ($50 fine + $7 fee + $35 surcharge); ages 18+: $120 ($75 fine + $10 fee + $35 surcharge)
Delaware Yes Ages 16+ in all seats $25
Idaho No (primary for drivers under age 18) Ages 7+ in all seats $10 (drivers under 18 pay $51.50, includ- ing court costs)
Illinois Yes Ages 16+ in all seats $25 (plus court fees)
Indiana Yes Ages 16+ in all seats $25
Iowa Yes Ages 18+ in front seat $127.50 (including court costs)
Maryland Yes     (secondary for rear seats) Ages 16+ in all seats $83 (fine plus court costs)
Massachusetts No Ages 13+ in all seats $254
Michigan Yes Ages 16+ in front seat $25
Minnesota Yes Ages 7 and younger and more than 57” in all seats; ages 8+ in all seats $25 (plus approx. $75 court fee)
Missouri No (primary for children ages 16 and younger) Ages 16+ in front seat Ages 8 through 15 in all seats: $50; ages 16 and younger in front seats: $10
Montana No Ages 6+ in all seats $20
Nebraska No Ages 18+ in front seat $25
Nevada No Ages 6+ in all seats $25
New Hampshire No law No law No law
New Jersey Yes      (secondary for rear seat occupants) Ages 7 and younger and more than 57”; ages 8+ in all seats $46 (including court costs)
New Mexico Yes Ages 18+ in all seats $252
New York Yes Ages 16+ in front seat $505
Pennsylvania No (primary for ages 18 and younger) Ages 8 through 17 in all seats; ages 18+ in front seat $10
Rhode Island Yes Ages 18+ in all seats $40
South Carolina Yes6 Ages 6+ in all seats $25
South Dakota No Ages 18+ in front seat $25
Tennessee Yes Ages 16+ in front seat $25
West Virginia Yes Ages 8+ in front seat; ages 8 through 17 in all seats $25
Wisconsin Yes Ages 8+ in all seats $10
Wyoming No Ages 9+ in all seats $258 driver; $10 passenger
District of Columbia Yes Ages 16+ in all seats $502
Puerto Rico Yes Ages 9+ or children taller than 57” $50
U.S. Virgin Islands Yes All ages in front seat $25-$250
Notes | Appendix B
  1. Arkansas rewards belt use by reducing the fine for the primary violation by $10.
  2. This jurisdiction assesses points for violations.
  3. In Georgia, the maximum fine is $25 if the child is between the ages of 6 and 18.
  4. Drivers in Massachusetts can be fined $25 for violating the belt law themselves and $25 for each unrestrained passenger age 12 to 16.
  5. New York assesses points only when the violation involves a child under age 16.
  6. Police are prohibited in South Carolina from enforcing safety belt laws at checkpoints not designed for that purpose. However, safety belt violations may be issued at license and registration checkpoints to drivers cited for other offenses.
  7. Utah will waive the fine for the first violation if the person submits proof of acquisition, rental, or purchase of a child restraint device.
  8. Wyoming rewards belt use by reducing the fine for the primary violation by $10.

 

Sources: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 2016; Governors Highway Safety Association, 2017.

Appendix C

State Laws on Child Restraint Use 2016
STATE/JURISDICTION MUST BE IN CHILD RESTRAINT ADULT SAFETY BELT PERMISSIBLE MAXIMUM FINE 
Alabama (14) Younger than age 1 or less than 20 pounds must be in a rear-facing infant seat; ages 1 through 4 or 20-40 pounds in a forward-facing child restraint; age 5 but not yet age 6 in a booster seat Ages 6 through 14; law states no preference for rear seat. 25 (1)
Alaska Children younger than age 1 or who weigh less than 20 pounds in a rear-facing infant seat; ages 1 through 3 and 20 pounds or more in a child restraint; ages 4 through 8 who are shorter than 57” and who weigh more than 20 pounds but less than 65 pounds in a booster seat or child safety seat. Ages 4 through 7 who are at least 57” and 65+ pounds; ages 8 through 15 who are shorter than 57” and weigh less than 65 pounds; law states no preference for rear seat 50 (1)
Arizona Ages 4 and younger; ages 5 through 7 who are 57” or shorter must use a booster seat Ages 5 through 7 who are taller than 57”; up to age 16; law states no preference for rear seat $50
Arkansas (14) Ages 5 and younger and less than 60 pounds Ages 6 through 14 or 60+ pounds; law states no preference for rear seat $100
California Younger than age 2, less than 40 pounds, or shorter than 40” in a rear-facing infant seat; ages 7 and younger who are less than 57”2 Ages 8 through 15 or at least 57”; ages 7 and younger who are less than 57” must be in rear seat 100 (1)
Colorado Younger than age 1 and less than 20 pounds in a rear-facing infant seat; ages 1 through 3 and 20-40 pounds in a child safety seat; ages 4 through 7 in a forward-facing car seat or booster seat. Ages 8 through 15; children under age 1 and less than 20 pounds must be in rear seat if available $81
Connecticut Younger than age 2 and less than 30 pounds in rear-facing restraint; ages 2 through 4 or weighing less than 40 pounds in a rear- or forward-facing child restraint system; ages 5 through 7 or weighs between 40 and 60 pounds in a child restraint system Ages 8 and older and weighing at least 60 pounds; all rear-facing child restraint systems shall be in the back seat if the vehicle has a functional passenger side airbag. $92 (3)
Delaware Ages 7 and younger and less than 66 pounds4 Ages 8 through 15 or weighs at least 65 pounds; 4 children ages 11 and younger or 65” or less must be in rear seat if passenger airbag is active $25
Florida Ages 5 and younger Ages 6 through 17;5 law states no preference for rear seat $60 (1)
Georgia Ages 7 and younger or 57” or shorter Age 8 and above or taller than 57”; children age 7 and younger must be in rear seat if available6 $50 (1)
Hawaii Ages 3 and younger in a child safety seat; ages 4 through 7 must be in a booster seat or child restraint Ages 8 and above; ages 4 through 7 who are taller than 57”; ages 4 through 7 who are at least 40 pounds seated in a rear seat where, if there are no available lap/shoulder belts, they can be restrained by a lap belt $100 (7)
Idaho Ages 6 and younger Ages 7 and up; law states no preference for rear seat $79
Illinois Ages 7 and younger Ages 8 through 15; children who weigh more than 40 pounds may wear only a lap belt when seated in rear where a shoulder belt is not available; law states no preference for rear seat $75 ($200 for subsequent offenses)
Indiana Ages 7 and younger8 Ages 8 through 15; law states no preference for rear seat $25 (1)
Iowa Younger than age 1 and less than 20 pounds in a rear-facing child restraint; ages 1 through 5 in a child restraint or booster Ages 6 through 17; law states no preference for rear seat $100
Kansas All children ages 3 and younger must be in a child restraint; children ages 4 through 7 who weigh less than 80 pounds and children ages 4 through 7 who are less than 57” must be in a child restraint or booster seat All children ages 8 through 13; children ages 4 through 7 who weigh more than 80 pounds; children ages 4 through 7 who are taller than 57”; law states no preference for rear seat $60
Kentucky Children 40” or less must be in a child restraint; children ages 7 and younger who are between 40” and 57” must be in a booster seat Taller than 57”; law states no preference for rear seat $50 child restraint; $30 booster seat
Louisiana Younger than age 1 or less than 20 pounds in a rear-facing child safety seat; ages 1 through 3 or 20-40 pounds in a forward-facing safety seat; ages 4 through 5 or 40-60 pounds in a child booster seat Ages 6 through 12 or more than 60 pounds; younger than age 6 or less than 60 pounds must sit in the rear seat if the passenger side front airbag is active. $100
Maine Less than 40 pounds in a child safety seat; 40-80 pounds and younger than age 8 in a child restraint or booster seat Ages 8 through 17 or younger than age 18 and more than 57”; ages 11 and younger and less than 100 pounds must be in rear seat if available $50 ($250 for subsequent offenses)
Maryland Ages 7 and younger and less than 57” Ages 8 through 15; children who are at least 57”; law states no preference for rear seat $50
Massachusetts Ages 7 and younger and less than 57” Ages 8 through 12; children who are at least 57”; law states no preference for rear seat $25
Michigan Ages 7 and younger and less than 57” Ages 8 through 15 or children who are at least 57”; ages 3 and younger must be in the rear seat if available $10 if child is age 4 or younger; $25 if child is between ages 4 through 8 and under 4’9”
Minnesota Ages 7 and younger and less than 57” Not permissible $50
Mississippi  (14) Ages 3 and younger must be in a child restraint; ages 4 through 6 and either less than 57” or weighs less than 65 pounds must be in a booster seat Ages 6 and older who weigh 65 pounds or more or are at least 57”; law states no preference for rear seat $25
Missouri Ages 3 and younger must be in child restraint; all children who weigh less than 40 pounds must be in a child restraint; ages 4 through 7 who weigh at least 40 pounds but less than 80 pounds and who are shorter than 57” must be in either a child restraint or booster seat All children who weigh 80 pounds or more or are taller than 57”; all children who weigh 80 pounds or more or who are taller than 57"; a child who would otherwise be required to be in a booster seat may ride in the back seat of a vehicle while wearing only a lap belt if the back seat of the vehicle is not equipped with a combination lap and shoulder belt for booster seat installation $50; $10 for violations involving children taller than 57" or who weigh more than 80 pounds
Montana Ages 5 and younger and less than 60 pounds Not permissible; law states no preference for rear seat $100
Nebraska Ages 5 and younger Ages 6 through 17;9 law states no preference for rear seat $25 (1)
Nevada Ages 5 and younger and 60 pounds or less Not permissible; law states no preference for rear seat $500 (10)  ($100 minimum)
New Hampshire Ages 6 and younger and less than 57” Ages 7 through 17; ages 7 and younger who are at least 57”; law states no preference for rear seat $50
New Jersey Younger than age 2 and less than 30 pounds in a rear-facing child restraint; ages 3 and younger who are less than 40 pounds in a rear-facing child seat until the child outgrows the manufacturer’s maximum height or weight recommendations or in a forward- forward-facing child safety seat; ages 7 and younger and less than 57”, seated in forward-facing child seat until child outgrows the manufacturer’s maximum height or weight recommendations or a booster seat Not permissible; children ages 7 and younger who are less than 57” must be in the rear seat if available; no child shall be secured in a rear-facing child restraint in the front seat of any vehicle that is equipped with an active passenger-side airbag $75
New Mexico Younger than age 1 in a rear-facing infant seat, seated in the rear seat if available; children ages 1 through 4 or less than 40 pounds in a child safety seat; ages 5 through 6 or less than 60 pounds in booster seat Ages 7 through 17 $25
New York Ages 4 and younger and weighing under 40 pounds need to be in a child restraint; if a child 7 or younger weighs more than 40 pounds and is seated where there is no available lap/shoulder belt, the child may wear a lap safety belt Ages 8 through 15; law states no preference for rear seat $100 (1)
North Carolina Ages 7 and younger and less than 80 pounds Ages 8 through 15 and children 40-80 pounds in seats without shoulder belts; children ages 4 and younger who weigh less than 40 pounds must be in the rear seat unless the front passenger-side airbag is deactivated or the child safety seat is designed for use with airbags $25 (1)  ($188 court fees)
North Dakota Ages 7 and younger and less than 57” Ages 8 through 17; ages 7 and younger and at least 57” tall; law states no preference for rear seat $25 (1)
Ohio (14) Ages 3 and younger or less than 40 pounds in child restraint; ages 4 through 7 who are shorter than 57” must be in booster seat or child restraint Ages 8 through 14;11 law states no preference for rear seat $75 (1)
Oklahoma (14) Children ages 3 and younger in a child restraint; ages 4 through 7 and less than 57” need to be in a child restraint or booster seat;12 child restraint systems shall be rear-facing until age 2 or until the child reaches the height or weight limit of the system. Age 8 years and older; children who are taller than 57”; law states no preference for rear seat $50 (maximum $207.90 with court fees)
Oregon Children age 1 or younger must be in a rear-facing child safety seat; child who weighs less than 40 pounds must be in a child restraint; child who weighs more than 40 pounds and is 57” or shorter must be in booster seat Ages 8 and above children taller than 57"; law states no preference for rear seat $110
Pennsylvania Younger than 2 years in a rear-facing child restraint until child outgrows manufacturer’s top height or weight recommendations; children ages 2 through 3 years must be in a forward-facing child safety seat; ages 4 through 7 must be in a booster seat Ages 8 through 17; law states no preference for rear seat $75
Rhode Island Ages 7 and younger and less than 57” and less than 80 pounds; children 1 and younger or less than 30 pounds must be in a rear-facing child restraint. Ages 8 through 17; ages 7 and younger who either weigh more than 80 pounds or who are taller than 57”; children age 7 and young- er must be in rear seat if available $85; $40 for children between ages 8 through 17
South Carolina Ages 1 and younger must be in a rear-facing child passenger restraint system in rear passenger seat of vehicle. A child at least age 2, or a child under 2 who has outgrown his rear-facing child passenger restraint system, must be in a forward-facing child passenger restraint system; ages 4 through 7 who outgrow forward-facing child restraint must be in a belt-positioning booster using lap/ shoulder belts
 
Ages 8 and older or 57” or taller; children ages 4 and younger must be in rear seat if available $150
South Dakota Ages 4 and younger and less than 40 pounds Ages 5 through 17; all children who weigh more than 40 pounds regardless of age; law states no preference for rear seat $25
Tennessee Younger than age 1 or weighing 20 pounds or less must be in a rear-facing child seat; ages 1 through 3 who weigh more than 20 pounds must be restrained in a forward-facing child seat; ages 4 through 8 and less than 57" in a booster seat Ages 9 through 15; children age 8 and younger and less than 57” must be in a rear seat if available; ages 9 through 12 or a child through age 12 and 57” or taller are encouraged to be seated in rear seat, if available. $50
Texas Ages 7 and younger and less than 57” Ages 8 through 16 or 57” or taller; law states no preference for rear seat $25 minimum (maximum unlisted)
Utah Ages 7 and younger and shorter than 57” Ages 8 and older; children 57” or taller; law states no preference for rear seat $45
Vermont Younger than age 1 or less than 20 pounds in a rear-facing child restraint seat; ages 1 through 7 and more than 20 pounds in child restraint Ages 8 through 17; children age 1 and younger or less than 20 pounds must be in rear seat unless the front passenger-side airbag is deactivated $25
Virginia Ages 7 and younger Ages 8 through 17;13 children in a rear-facing child restraint must be in a rear seat if available; if not available, they may be placed in front seat only if front passenger airbag is deactivated $50
Washington Ages 7 and younger and shorter than 57” Ages 8 through 15; ages 7 and younger and 57” or taller; children who weigh more than 40 pounds in a seating position where only a lap belt is available; ages 12 and younger must be in rear seat if practical $124
West Virginia Ages 7 and younger and shorter than 57” Ages 8 through 17; Ages 7 and younger and 57” or taller; law states no preference for rear seat $20
Wisconsin Children younger than age 1 and all children who weigh less than 20 pounds must be in a rear-facing child safety seat; children ages 1 through 3 or who weigh at least 20 pounds but less than 40 pounds must be in a rear- or forward-facing child safety seat; children ages 4 through 7, weigh at least 40 pounds but less than 80 pounds, and who are 57" tall or less must be in a child restraint or booster seat Ages 8 and older; children weighing more than 80 pounds or are 57" or taller; ages 3 and younger must be in a rear seat, if available $75
Wyoming Ages 8 and younger Not permissible; ages 8 and younger must be in rear seat, if available $50
District of Columbia Ages 7 and younger Ages 8 through 15; law states no preference for rear seat 7$5 (1)
Puerto Rico Ages 3 and younger must be in a child safety seat; children ages 4 through 8 or less than 57” must be in a booster seat Ages 9 and older or 57” or taller; children younger than age 12 must be in a rear seat, if possible. $100
U.S. Virgin Islands Children up to 1 year of age or at least 20 pounds must be in a rear-facing child safety seat in the rear of the vehicle; children 1 through 4 years and at least 40 pounds must be in a child restraint system; children who have outgrown their forward-facing child safety seats or children who are under age 8, between 40 and 80 pounds, and less than 57” tall must sit in a booster seat. Children ages 14 and older; children 13 years and younger shall always ride in the rear seat of vehicles that are equipped with airbags $75-$500

 

Notes | Appendix C
  1. This state assesses points for violations.
  2. In California, children weighing more than 40 pounds may be belted without a booster seat if they are seated in the rear seat of a vehicle not equipped with lap/shoulder belts. The California rear seat requirement does not apply if: there is no rear seat; the rear seats are side-facing jump seats; the rear seats are rear-facing seats; the child passenger restraint system cannot be installed properly in the rear seat; all rear seats are already occupied by children under age 12; or medical reasons necessitate that the child not ride in the rear seat. A child may not ride in the front seat of a motor vehicle with an active passenger airbag if the child is riding in a rear-facing child restraint system.
  3. The fine in Connecticut is $15 if the child is age 4 to 16 and 40 pounds or more. Connecticut also requires a child restraint education program for first or second violations.
  4. In Delaware, children younger than age 12 or 65” or less must be restrained in a rear seat if a vehicle has a passenger airbag, unless the airbag either has been deactivated or designed to accommodate smaller people. Exceptions: If there is no rear seat or rear seat is occupied by other children younger than age 12 or 65” or less.
  5. In Florida, the child restraint device requirement does not apply to children ages 4 through 5, when a safety belt is used and the child is either being transported by an operator who is not a member of the child’s immediate family, in an emergency or has a documented medical condition that necessitates an exception.
  6. In Georgia, children weighing more than 40 pounds can be restrained in the back seat of a vehicle by a lap belt if the vehicle is not equipped with lap and shoulder belts or when the lap and shoulder belts are being used by other children who weigh more than 40 pounds
  7. Hawaii drivers are charged $50 for a mandatory child restraint education program and $10 for a surcharge that is deposited into a neurotrauma special fund.
  8. In Indiana, children weighing more than 40 pounds can be restrained by a lap belt if the vehicle is not equipped with lap and shoulder belts or if all lap and shoulder belts other than those in the front seat are being used to restrain other children who are younger than age 16.
  9. Nebraska’s law is secondary for those children who may be in safety belts and standard for those who must be in a child restraint device.
  10. In Nevada, the minimum fine is $100. An alternative to the fine is at least 10 hours but not more than 50 hours of community service.
  11. In Ohio, the law is secondary for children ages 4 through 14.
  12. In Oklahoma, children weighing more than 40 pounds can be restrained in the back seat of a vehicle by a lap belt if the vehicle is

not equipped with lap and shoulder belts or when the lap and shoulder belts are being used by other children who weigh more than 40 pounds

  1. In Virginia, children at least age 4 but younger than age 8 may be belted if any licensed physician determines that use of a child restraint system by a particular child would be impractical by reason of the child’s weight, physical fitness or other medical reason, provided that any person transporting a child so exempted shall carry on his person or in the vehicle a signed written statement of the physician identifying the child so exempted and stating the grounds for the determination.
  2. In Arkansas, Alabama and Ohio, 15-year-olds riding in the rear seat; in Mississippi, children ages 7 and older riding in the rear seat; and in Oklahoma, children ages 13 through 15 riding in the rear seat are not covered by either adult safety belt laws or child safety seat laws.

 

Sources: Sources: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, AAA and NCSL, 2017.

Appendix D

Restrictions on Riding in Cargo Areas of Pickup Trucks
STATE/JURISDICTION RESTRICTIONS IN CARGO AREAS GAPS IN COVERAGE
Alabama No state law  
Alaska No state law  
Arizona No state law  
Arkansas Law1 Employees on duty; those riding within truck bodies in a space intended for merchandise
California Law If the person is restrained by a federally approved restraint system; farmer-owned vehicle used exclusively within farming land or one mile of highway between one part to another; parade if not more than 8 mph; emergency situations
Colorado Law Those sitting in the cargo area if it is fully or partially enclosed on all four sides
Connecticut Law Anyone age 16 and older; anyone age 15 and younger if belted; parades; farming operations; hayrides August through December
Delaware No state law  
Florida Law Anyone age 18 and older; anyone age 17 and younger in enclosed cargo area; anyone age 17 and younger on non-limited access roads unless local law exempts them from the prohibition on minors riding the cargo areas of pickup trucks and flatbeds; anyone age 17 and younger on non-limited-access roads in a seat fitted with a safety belt that has been added to the pickup or flatbed; employees on duty
Georgia Law Anyone age 18 and older; anyone age 17 and younger in pickup trucks with covered cargo areas; any pickup truck off the interstate
Hawaii Law People 13 and older can ride in back of pickup trucks if no seats are available in the cab and the side racks and tailgate are securely closed; the passengers must be seated on the floor and may not attempt to unlatch cargo; parades, employees on duty; life-threatening emergencies
Idaho No state law  
Illinois No state law  
Indiana No state law  
Iowa No state law  
Kansas Law Anyone age 14 and older; parades; employment; does not apply to vehicles not being operated on the state highway system or within the corporate limits of a city
Kentucky No state law  
Louisiana Law Anyone age 12 and older if the truck is being used on a non-interstate highway; parades moving less than 15 mph; emergencies if the child is with an adult in the cargo area; emergencies on interstate highway
Maine Law Anyone age 19 and older; agricultural workers and hunters age 18 and younger; parades; those in original equipment manufacturer installed seats outside passenger compartment
Maryland Law Anyone age 16 and older; anyone age 15 and younger if the vehicle is traveling 25 mph or less; employees being transported to work sites or those engaged in farming operations; exceptions do not eliminate requirements to use child restraints or belts; not applicable to pickup trucks with covered cargo areas
Massachusetts Law Anyone age 12 and older; anyone age 11 and younger if the vehicle is being driven less than five miles and less than 5 mph; parades; farming activities
Michigan Law Age 18 and older; those ages 17 and younger if the vehicle is moving 15 mph or less; parades; military vehicles; emergency situations; farming; construction
Minnesota No state law  
Mississippi No state law  
Missouri Law Anyone age 18 and older; those ages 17 and younger if the vehicle is not being operated on a highway that is part of the state or federal highway system or within the corporate limits of any city; exceptions for employment; agricultural activities; parades; where there is a device to keep the passenger from being thrown or falling out of the vehicle; special events; assisting people in a recreational activity; family-owned truck with insufficient room for all passengers; not applicable to pickup trucks with covered cargo areas
Montana No state law  
Nebraska Law Anyone age 18 or older; parades
Nevada Law Anyone age 18 or older; those younger than age 18 when the vehicle is used in farming or ranching or if vehicle is used in an authorized parade; vehicles operated on unpaved roads; those in riding areas enclosed by a camper shell
New Hampshire No state law  
New Jersey Law Employees engaged in their duties
New Mexico Law Anyone age 18 or older
New York Law Not applicable to trips of five miles or less; not applicable to trips of more than five miles if one-third or fewer of the passengers are standing or if suitable seats are securely attached and there are side rails and a tailgate; not applicable to trips of more than five miles if there are fewer than five people ages 17 or younger in the cargo area or if at least one person age 18 or older is in the cargo area
North Carolina Law Anyone age 16 and older; those ages 15 and younger if a supervising adult is present in cargo area; when the child is belted; emergencies; parades; vehicle being used in agriculture; vehicles with permanent overhead structures
North Dakota No state law  
Ohio Law Anyone age 16 and older; those ages 15 and younger if the vehicle is driven less than 25 mph or if the person is belted and seated in an original equipment manufacturer seating position; emergencies; not applicable to pickup trucks with covered cargo areas
Oklahoma No state law  
Oregon Law Anyone age 18 or older; minors secured with a safety belt or harness; parades; minors seated on the floor of the open bed of a motor vehicle in which all available passenger seats are occupied by minors, the tailgate is securely closed and the minor is being transported either in the course and scope of employment or between a hunting camp and hunting site or between hunting sites during hunting season and the minor has a hunting license
Pennsylvania Law Anyone age 18 or older if the vehicle is traveling less than 35 mph; not applicable to occupants ages 17 and younger if the cargo area is enclosed; parades; hunting and farm operations
Rhode Island Law Anyone age 16 or older; those age 15 and younger who are secured in the cargo area
South Carolina Law Anyone age 15 or older; those ages 15 and younger when an adult is present; when the child is belted; parade; emergency situation; agricultural activities; hunting; vehicle has a secured metal tailgate and operated at less than 36 mph; vehicle operated in a county
South Dakota No state law  
Tennessee Law Anyone age 12 or older; those ages 6 to 11 in a vehicle being operated off the interstate or state highway system; parades if vehicle is going less than 20 mph; agricultural activities; on city or county roads unless prohibited by local ordinance or resolution
Texas Law Anyone age 18 or older; vehicles that are the only vehicles owned by members of the household; vehicles in parades; hayrides, on beaches, or being used in an emergency; vehicles in farm operations used to transport people from field to field or on farm
Utah Law Off-highway operation; employees performing their duties; those riding in a vehicle space that is intended for any load
Vermont No state law  
Virginia Law Anyone age 16 or older; farmers when crossing a highway to go from field to field
Washington No state law  
West Virginia No state law  
Wisconsin Law1 Not applicable to enclosed areas; farm operations; parades; deer hunting; employees; those riding in truck bodies in spaces intended for merchandise
Wyoming No state law  
District of Columbia Law1 Employees on duty; those riding within truck bodies in a space intended for materials
Total 31  
Notes | Appendix D
  1. This provision is designed to prohibit riding on hoods, fenders and other places not designed for passengers.  The exemption for people in the body of a truck applies to enclosed areas such as the cargo area of a straight truck or van.

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 2016.

Appendix E

Licensing Procedures for Older Drivers
STATE/JURISDICTION LENGTH OF RENEWAL CYCLE  ACCELERATED RENEWAL OTHER PROVISIONS
Alabama Four years None None
Alaska Five years None Mail renewal not available to people age 69 and older; 69 and older need proof of adequate vision at every renewal
Arizona Until age 65 Five years for people age 65 and older People age 70 and older cannot renew by mail1; mail renewal requires passage of vision exam within prior 3 months
Arkansas Eight years Four or eight years for people over 70; personal option None
California Five years None At age 70, mail renewal is prohibited; no more than two sequential mail renewals are permitted, regardless of age; 70 and over must have proof of adequate vision for every renewal
Colorado Five years None For those 66 and over, can renew by mail every other renewal period. Must pass a vision exam within 6 months prior to renewal. Ages 66 and over cannot renew electronically.
Connecticut Four or six years 65 and over have a choice of a two or six year renewal2 None
Delaware Eight years None None
Florida Eight years Six years for people age 80 and older Renewal applicants age 80 and older must pass a vision test administered at any driver's license office or, if applying by mail or electronically, must pass a vision test administered by a licensed physician or optometrist3
Georgia Eight years None In person vision screening required at every renewal for drivers age 64 and older; mail-in or online renewal prohibited for ages 64 and older
Hawaii Eight years Two years for people age 72 and older Drivers are limited to two consecutive mail-in renewals, regardless of age. Must appear in person every 16 years.
Idaho Four or eight years for ages 21 through 62 Drivers age 63 and older will receive a four-year license People age 70 and older are not permitted to renew online or by mail
Illinois Four years Two years for drivers ages 81 to 86; one year for drivers age 87 and older Renewal applicants age 75 and older must take a road test; 75 and older must provide proof of adequate vision for every renewal; mail and electronic renewal are not available to ages 75 and older
Indiana Six years Three years for drivers age 75 through 84; two years for drivers age 85 and older Mail and electronic renewal are not available to people age 75 and older or to those whose prior renewal was by mail or electronic; 75 and older must provide proof of adequate vision for every renewal;
Iowa Five to eight years (selected randomly)4 Age 67: five to seven years (selected randomly); Age 68: five to six years (selected randomly); Age 69: Five years; Age 70: Four years; Age 71: Two years; Age 72 and older: Two years People age 70 and older may not renew online
Kansas Six years Four years for drivers age 65 and older None
Kentucky Eight years None None
Louisiana Six years None Mail renewal not available to people age 70 and older and to those whose prior renewal was by mail5; 70 and older must provide proof of adequate vision for every renewal
Maine Six years Four years for drivers age 65 and older Vision test required at first renewal after driver’s 40th birthday and at every second renewal until age 62; thereafter, at every renewal; ages 62 and older prohibited from electronic or mail-in renewal
Maryland Eight years None Vision test required at age 40 and older at every renewal  (6)
Massachusetts Five years None Renewal applicants who are age 75 and older must apply in person6 75 and older must provide proof of adequate vision for every renewal
Michigan Four years None None
Minnesota Four years None None that are safety- related (6)
Mississippi Four or eight years None None
Missouri Six years Three years for drivers age 70 and older None
Montana Eight years Ages 68-74: valid until driver is 75; Age 75 and older: four years None that are safety- related (8)
Nebraska Five years None Applicants age 72 and older may not renew electronically; 72 and older must provide proof of adequate vision for every renewal
Nevada Four years (odd number of birth years) or eight years (even number of birth years); eight years for all licenses starting in 2018 Four years for drivers age 65 and older None that are safety- related (6, 8)
New Hampshire Five years None Road test required for people age 75 and older; online renewal is available to ages 75 and older
New Jersey Four years 2 or 4 years for people 70 and older, personal option None
New Mexico Four or eight years Four years for drivers ages 67 through 74; annually for drivers age 75 and older Applicants age 75 and older may not renew by mail or electronically
New York Eight years None None
North Carolina Eight years Five years for drivers age 66 and older None that are safety- related (9)
North Dakota Six years Four years for drivers age 78 and older 65 and over cannot renew online or through the mail.
Ohio Four years None None
Oklahoma Four years None None that are safety- related (10) 
Oregon Eight years None Vision screening is required every renewal for drivers age 50 and older
Pennsylvania Four years Two years or four years for people 65 and older, personal option None
Rhode Island Five years Two years for drivers age 75 and older None
South Carolina Ten years Five years for drivers age 65 and older Mail-in and electronic renewal available
South Dakota Five years None People age 65 and older must provide proof of adequate vision at every renewal.
Tennessee Eight years No expiration for people age 65 and older None that are safety-related11
Texas Six years Two years for drivers age 85 and older Mail or electronic renewal not available to people age 79 and older; 79 and older must provide proof of adequate vision for every renewal
Utah Five years None Vision test required for every renewal for people age 65 and older
Vermont Two or four years None None
Virginia Eight years Five years for drivers age 75 and older Renewal applicants age 75 and older must apply in person and pass department vision requirements or present a vision statement, no older than 90 days, from an optometrist or ophthalmologist; no mail or online renewal permitted for those age 75 and older
Washington Six years None Mail or online renewal not permitted 70 and older
West Virginia Eight years None None
Wisconsin Eight years None None
Wyoming Four years None None
District of Columbia Eight years None At age 70 or nearest renewal date thereafter, a vision test is required and a reaction test may be required; applicants must provide a statement from a practicing physician certifying the applicant to be physically and mentally competent to drive12; No mail or online renewal for those age 70 and older
Puerto Rico Six years None None
U.S. Virgin Islands Five years No information No information

 

Notes | Appendix E
  1. In Arizona, the license is valid until age 65. Anyone age 65 and older who is renewing by mail must submit a vision test verification form, provided by the department, or verification of an examination of the applicant’s eyesight. The vision test or examination must be conducted not more than three months before.
  2. In Connecticut, people age 65 and older can choose a two-year or six-year renewal cycle. A personal appearance at renewal generally is required. Upon showing a hardship, people age 65 and older can renew by mail.
  3. In Florida, only two successive renewals can be made electronically or by mail, regardless of age.
  4. Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, and continuing through Dec. 31, 2018, Iowa will transition from a standard five-year license term to an eight-year license term. During this time, Iowa driver’s licenses will be issued with a randomly assigned expiration date of between five and eight years.
  5. In Louisiana, a person age 70 and older can renew by mail or online if he or she is medically diagnosed with a disability that precludes that driver from renewing in person and he or she submits a sworn affidavit by a physician certifying that the person possesses all cognitive functions reasonably necessary to be a prudent driver.
  6. Some state licensing laws specifically prohibit licensing administrators from treating people differently solely by virtue of advanced age. Maryland law specifies that age alone is not grounds for reexamination of drivers; applicants for an initial license who are age 70 and older must provide proof of previous satisfactory operation of a vehicle or a physician’s certificate of fitness. Massachusetts law prohibits discrimination by reason of age with regard to licensing. Minnesota and Nevada law specify that age alone is not a justification for reexamination.
  7. In Montana, a driver must renew in person after renewing once by mail or electronically, regardless of age.
  8. In Nevada, applicants for mail renewal age 70 and older must include a medical report.
  9. In North Carolina, people age 60 and older are not required to parallel park in the road test.
  10. In Oklahoma, the license fee is reduced for drivers ages 62 to 64 and is waived for drivers age 65 and older.
  11. In Tennessee, fees are reduced for drivers age 60 and older and licenses issued to people age 65 and older do not expire.
  12. The District of Columbia specifically states that an applicant shall not be required to retake the written or road test based solely on advanced age.

 

Sources: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, AAA, and NCSL, 2017.

Appendix F

Teen Driving Restrictions
STATE/JURISDICTION MINIMUM AGE FOR LEARNER'S PERMIT LEARNER STAGE WITH MINIMUM AMOUNT OF SUPERVISED DRIVING REQUIRED INTERMEDIATE STAGE WITH A NIGHTIME DRIVING RESTRICTION 1 INTERMEDIATE STAGE WITH PASSENGER RESTRICTIONS 1 (FAMILY MEMBERS EXCEPTED UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
Alabama 152 50 hours (none with driver education) Midnight-6 a.m. (secondary) No more than one passenger (secondary) until the driver is at least 17 and has been licensed for 6 months.
Alaska 14 40 hours, 10 of which must be at night or in inclement weather 1 a.m.-5 a.m. First six months or until age 18, whichever occurs first: no passengers younger than 21
Arizona 15, six months 30 hours, 10 of which must be at night (none with driver education) Midnight-5 a.m. (secondary) First six months or until age 18, whichever occurs first: no more than one passenger younger than age 18 (secondary)
Arkansas 143,4 None 11 p.m. -4 a.m. Until age 18: no more than one passenger younger than age 21
California 15, six months 50 hours, 10 of which must be at night 11 p.m. -5 a.m. (secondary) 12 months after initial license: no passengers younger than age 20 (secondary)
Colorado 156 50 hours, 10 of which must be at night Midnight-5 a.m. (secondary) First six months: no passengers; second six months: no more than one passenger (secondary)
Connecticut 16 40 hours (mandatory driver education for those under age 18) 11 p.m. -5 a.m. First six months: no passenger other than parents or driving instructor; second six months: no passengers other than parents, driving instructor or members of immediate family
Delaware 16 50 hours, 10 of which must be at night 10 p.m. -6 a.m. First six months (and until issuance of a class D operator’s license): no more than one passenger
Florida 15 50 hours, 10 of which must be at night 11 p.m. -6 a.m. (age 16); 1 a.m.-5 a.m. (age 17) None
Georgia 15 40 hours, six of which must be at night Midnight-5 a.m. (secondary) First six months: no passengers; second six months: no more than one passenger younger than age 21; until age 18: no more than three passengers (secondary)
Hawaii 15, six months 50 hours, 10 of which must be at night 11 p.m. -5 a.m. First six months (at least) and until age 17: no more than one passenger younger than age 18 (household members exempted)
Idaho 14, six months 50 hours, 10 of which must be at night Sunset to sunrise First six months or until age 17: licensees age 16 and younger can have no more than one passenger younger than age 17
Illinois 15 50 hours, 10 of which must be at night Sun.-Thur.: 10 p.m. -6 a.m.; Fri-Sat: 11 p.m.-6 a.m. First 12 months (or until age 18): no more than one passenger younger than age 20
Indiana 15 50 hours, 10 of which must be at night First six months: 10 p.m. -5 a.m.; thereafter, Sun.-Fri.: 11 p.m. -5 a.m., Sat.-Sun.: 1 a.m.-5 a.m. First six months or until age 21, whichever occurs first: no passengers
Iowa 147 20 hours, two of which must be at night 12:30 a.m.-5 a.m.8 Parental discretion (4)
Kansas 149 25 hours in learner phase; 25 hours before age 16; 10 of the 50 hours must be at night 9 p.m. -5 a.m. First six months or until age 17, whichever occurs first: no more than one passenger younger than age 18
Kentucky 16 60 hours, 10 of which must be at night Midnight-6 a.m. First six months or until age 18, whichever occurs first: no more than one passenger younger than age 20 unless supervised by a driving instructor (secondary)
Louisiana 1510 50 hours, 15 of which must be at night 11 p.m. -5 a.m. Until age 17: no more than one passenger younger than age 21 between the hours of 6 p.m. -5 a.m.; no other passenger restrictions from 5 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Maine 1511 70 hours, 10 of which must be at night Midnight-5 a.m. First nine months: no passengers
Maryland 15, nine months 60 hours, 10 of which must be at night Midnight-5 a.m. First five months or until age 18, whichever occurs first: no passengers younger than age 18 (secondary)
Massachusetts 16 40 hours12 12:30 a.m.–5 a.m. (secondary enforcement between 12:30 a.m.–1:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m.–5:00 a.m.) First six months or until age 18, whichever comes first: no passengers younger than age 18 (secondary enforcement between 12:30 a.m.– 1:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m.–5:00 a.m.)
Michigan 14, nine months 50 hours, 10 of which must be at night 10:00 p.m. -5 a.m. First six months and age 17 or until age 18: no more than one passenger younger than age 21
Minnesota 15 40 hours, 15 of which must be at night13 Midnight-5 a.m. First six months: no more than one passenger younger than age 20; second six months: no more than three passengers younger than age 20
Mississippi 15 (14) None Sun.-Thur.: 10 p.m. - 6 a.m., Fri.-Sat. 11:30 p.m. - 6 a.m. None
Missouri 15 40 hours, 10 of which must be at night 1 a.m.-5 a.m. First six months: no more than one passenger younger than age 19; thereafter: no more than three passengers younger than age 19
Montana 14, six months 50 hours, 10 of which must be at night 11 p.m. -5 a.m. First six months: no more than one passenger younger than age 18; second six months: no more than three passengers younger than age 18
Nebraska 15 50 hours, 10 of which must be at night (none with driver education) Midnight-6 a.m. secondary First six months or until age 18, whichever occurs first: no more than one passenger younger than age 19 (secondary)
Nevada 15, six months 50 hours, 10 of which must be at night 10 p.m. -5 a.m. (secondary) First six months or until age 18, whichever comes first: no passengers younger than age 18 (secondary)
New Hampshire 15, six months 40 hours, 10 of which must be at night 1 a.m.-4 a.m. First six months or until age 18, whichever comes first: no more than one passenger younger than age 25
New Jersey 16 (16) None 11 p.m. -5 a.m. First 12 months or until age 21, whichever comes first: no more than one passenger (exception limited to the driver’s dependents)
New Mexico 15 (17) 50 hours, 10 of which must be at night Midnight-5 a.m. First 12 months or until age 18, whichever occurs first: no more than one passenger younger than age 21
New York 16 50 hours, 15 of which must be at night 9 p.m. -5 a.m. (prohibited at all times in NYC and limited unsupervised driving in Nassau and Suffolk counties) Until age 17 with driver education or until age 18: no more than one passenger younger than age 21
North Carolina 15 (18) 60 hours, 10 of which must be at night during the learner phase; 12 hours, six of which must be at night, during intermediate phase 9 p.m. -5 a.m. First six months or until age 18, whichever occurs first: no more than one passenger younger than age 21; if a family member younger than age 21 is already a passenger, then no other passengers younger than age 21 who are not family members
North Dakota 14 Under age 16: 50 hours; 16 and over: None Restricted license holder may only drive a car belonging to a parent or guardian and may not drive between the later of sunset or 9 p.m. p.m. and 5 a.m. None
Ohio 15, six months 50 hours, 10 of which must be at night First 12 months: Midnight – 6am; Second 12 months: 1am – 5am First 12 months: no more than one passenger
Oklahoma 15, six months 50 hours, 10 of which must be at night 10 p.m. -5 a.m. First six months with driver education, first 12 months without, or until age 18: no more than one passenger
Oregon 15 50 hours (100 hours without driver education) Midnight-5 a.m. First six months: no passengers younger than age 20; second six months: no more than three passengers younger than age 20
Pennsylvania 16 65 hours, 10 of which must be at night and five of which must be in inclement weather 11 p.m. -5 a.m. First six months: no more than one passenger younger than age 18; thereafter, no more than three passengers
Rhode Island 16 (19) 50 hours, 10 of which must be at night 1 a.m.-5 a.m. First 12 months or until age 18, whichever occurs first: no more than one passenger younger than age 21 (20)
South Carolina 15 40 hours, 10 of which must be at night 6 p.m. -6 a.m. EST, 8 p.m. -6 a.m. EDT First 12 months and until age 17: no more than two passengers younger than age 21 (driving to and from school excepted)
South Dakota 14 None 10 p.m. -6 a.m. None
Tennessee 15 50 hours, 10 of which must be at night 11 p.m. -6 a.m. First 12 months or until age 18, whichever occurs first: no more than one passenger
Texas 15 30 hours, 10 of which must be at night Midnight-5 a.m. (secondary) Until age 18: no more than one passenger younger than age 21 (secondary)
Utah 15 40 hours, 10 of which must be at night Midnight-5 a.m. First six months or until age 18, whichever occurs first: no passengers (secondary)
Vermont 15 40 hours, 10 of which must be at night None First three months: no passengers without exception; second three months: no passengers with family exception
Virginia 15, six months 45 hours, 15 of which must be at night Midnight-4 a.m. (secondary) First 12 months: no more than one passenger younger than age 21; thereafter: no more than three passengers younger than age 21 (secondary)21
Washington 15 50 hours, 10 of which must be at night 1 a.m.-5 a.m.(secondary) First six months: no passengers younger than age 20; second six months: no more than three passengers younger than age 20 (secondary) (22)
West Virginia 15 50 hours, 10 of which must be at night (none with driver education) 10 p.m. -5 a.m. First six months: no passengers younger than age 20; second six months: no more than one passenger younger than age 20
Wisconsin 15, six months 30 hours, 10 of which must be at night Midnight-5 a.m. First nine months or until age 18, whichever occurs first: no more than one passenger
Wyoming 15 50 hours, 10 of which must be at night 11 p.m. -5 a.m. First six months or until age 17, whichever occurs first: no more than one passenger younger than age 18
District of Columbia 16 40 hours in learner's stage, 10 hours at night in intermediate stage  September–June: 11 p.m.-6 a.m. Sun.– Thur., 12:01 a.m.-6 a.m. Sat.–Sun.; July– August: 12:01 a.m.-6 a.m. First six months or until age 21, whichever occurs first: no passengers; thereafter: no more than two passengers
Puerto Rico 16      
U.S. Virgin Islands (24) 16 None None None
Notes | Appendix F
  1. State laws that prohibit police from stopping young drivers solely for violating night driving or passenger restrictions are labeled secondary.
  2. In Alabama, the supervising driver must be a parent, guardian, grandparent or driving instructor. At age 16, permit holders may drive with a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old.
  3. In Arkansas, those age 14 can drive with an instruction permit after passing a written test. After passing a road test, they are eligible for a learner’s license. Unsupervised driving is not permitted by holders of either the instruction permit or learner’s license. The combined olding period for the permit and restricted license is six months.
  4. In Arkansas, applicants for an intermediate license must be 16 and must be crash/violation-free for six months. Licensees younger than 18 are prohibited from transporting passengers who are unrestrained.
  5. In California, students enrolled in driver education may drive while supervised by an instructor. License applicants who do not take driver education must wait until age 18 for a license. They are not required to go through an intermediate license stage.
  1. In Colorado, the minimum permit age varies. Fifteen year-olds who are enrolled in driver education may apply for an instruction permit. Their supervising driver must be a parent, stepparent, grandparent, guardian, or driving instructor. At age 15 and 6 months, driver education is no longer required, but applicants for this permit must have completed a four-hour driver awareness program. At 16, young drivers may apply for a permit that allows driving while supervised by a licensed driver age 21 or older.
  2. In Iowa, parents are permitted to waive at the time of licensure a discretionary six-month passenger limit of no more than one unrelated passenger younger than age 18.
  3. In Iowa, driver education graduates who have held an instruction permit for at least 6 months and are at least 14 and 6 months may apply for a school license that permits unsupervised driving between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. The school license limits drivers to direct routes to and from school for classes or school sponsored activities, other schools hosting activities, school bus stops and gas stations. Holders of a minor school license may not use electronic communication devices or electronic entertainment devices (permanently installed equipment exempted), carry more than one unrelated passenger, or drive to another school district without an extra- curricular sharing agreement.
  4. In Kansas, drivers age 15 but not yet 16 may be granted a restricted license if they have completed driver training. Restricted license holders younger than 16 may not drive unless supervised other than to and from school or work via the most direct route and may not carry minor passengers other than siblings. To get a restricted license, applicants must have driven at least 25 of the 50 hours required for a full license and must have held an instruction permit for 12 months.
  5. In Louisiana, driver education is required for a permit and an intermediate license if the applicant is younger than age 18.
  6. In Maine, driver education is required for a permit and a license if the applicant is younger than 18.
  7. In Massachusetts, the requirement for supervised driving is 30 hours for applicants who have successfully completed a driver skills development program. in a closed, off-road course licensed by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles.
  8. In Minnesota, license applicants younger than age 18 must provide proof that a parent has taken a course for parents of teen drivers or perform an additional 10 certified practice hours.
  9. In Mississippi, license applicants 17 and older are exempt from the requirement to get an intermediate license.
  10. In New Hampshire, learner’s permits are not issued. At age 15 and six months, a person can drive while supervised by a licensed driver age 25 or older.
  11. In New Jersey, the permit becomes an intermediate license after six months for drivers younger than 21 and after 3 months for drivers 21 and older. The graduated licensing law applies to adults, except that the night driving and passenger restrictions are waived for new drivers 21 and older. If the applicant has not completed driver education, the minimum permit age is 17 and the minimum intermediate license age is 17, 6 months. Learner’s permit holders may not drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. and may carry only one passenger in addition to the supervising driver or any parent, guardian or dependent.
  12. In New Mexico, permit applicants younger than age 18 must be enrolled in driver education.
  13. In North Carolina, driver education is required for permit applicants younger than age 18.
  14. In Rhode Island, driver education is required of permit applicants younger than age 18 starting January 1, 2018.
  15. In Rhode Island, drivers younger than age 18 can drive between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. when driving to a school sponsored athletic activity for which no transportation is provided by the school.
  16. In Virginia, the holder of a learner’s permit cannot have more than one passenger in the vehicle that is under age 21.
  17. In Washington, intermediate license holders with a crash or violation history are ineligible for an unrestricted license until age 18
  18. In Wisconsin, enrollment in driver education is required for permit applicants younger than age 18.
  19. The U.S. Virgin Islands has no graduated driver’s licensing system; learner’s permits can be granted at age 16.

 

Sources: Sources: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and National Conference of State Legislatures 2017.

Appendix G

State Aggressive Driving Laws
STATE/JURISDICTION DEFINITION OF AGGRESSIVE DRIVING MAXIMUM IMPRISONMENT OR JAIL SANCTION MAXIMUM FINE SANCTION MAXIMUM LICENSING ACTION
Arizona A person commits aggressive driving if both the following occur: 1) if, during a "course of conduct," he or she violates either the Basic Speed Rule or the "Excessive Speed" law plus two of the following minor driving offenses: a) failure to obey traffic control devices; b) overtaking and passing another vehicle on the right by driving off the pavement or main traveled portion of the roadway; c) unsafe lane change; d) following a vehicle too closely; and e) failure to yield the right-of-way; and 2) his or her "driving is an immediate hazard to another person or vehicle." "Course of conduct" means "a series of acts committed during a single, continuous period of driving." Six months  (1) $2,500 30 days  (2)
California California does not have a per se aggressive driving law. However, in addition to the usual criminal sanctions, the law provides licensing sanctions against a person who commits a criminal assault using a motor vehicle (commonly known as "road rage") against either another motor vehicle, an operator of a bicycle or a pedestrian. Four years $10,000 Six months
Delaware No person shall drive any vehicle in an aggressive manner. Aggressive driving is defined as continuous conduct that violates three or more of the following rules of the road: failing to obey a traffic-control device; overtaking on the right; failing to drive within a marked lane for traffic; following too closely; failing to yield the right-of-way to approaching traffic when turning left; failing to yield to approaching traffic when entering or crossing a roadway; failing to signal when turning or stopping; failing to stop at stop signs or yield at yield signs; overtaking and passing a stopped school bus with flashing lights; failing to obey the basic speed rule; and failing to a obey a posted speed limit. 30 days (3),           10 days mandatory (3) $300 (3),                    $100 mandatory (3) None  (4)                  30 days for subsequent offenses within three years
Florida Aggressive careless driving means committing two or more of the following acts simultaneously or in succession: 1) exceeding the posted speed, 2) unsafely or improperly changing lanes, 3) following another vehicle too closely, 4) failing to yield the right-of-way, 5) improperly passing and 6) violating traffic control and signal devices.  (5) None None None
Georgia A person commits the offense of aggressive driving when he or she operates any motor vehicle with the intent to annoy, harass, molest, intimidate, injure or obstruct another person, while violating motor vehicle code sections, including overtaking and passing another vehicle; traffic lane violations; following too closely; turn signal, lane change, slowing or stopping violations; impeding traffic flows; or reckless driving. A person convicted of aggressive driving shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. 12 months $5,000 None
Indiana A person engages in aggressive driving if, during one episode of continuous driving of a vehicle, the person commits at least three of the following: 1) following a vehicle too closely, 2) unsafe operation of a vehicle, 3) overtaking another vehicle on the right by driving off the roadway, 4) unsafe stopping or slowing a vehicle, 5) unnecessary sounding of the horn, 6) failure to yield, 7) failure to obey a traffic control device, 8) driving at an unsafe speed and 9) repeatedly flashing the vehicle's headlights. One year $5,000 None
Maryland A person is guilty of aggressive driving if the person commits three or more of the following offenses at the same time or during a single and continuous period of driving in violation of: traffic lights with steady indication, overtaking and passing vehicles, passing on right, driving on laned roadways, following too closely, failure to yield right of way, and exceeding a maximum speed limit or posted maximum speed limit. None None None (6)
Nevada A person commits aggressive driving if, during a course of one mile, he or she, in any sequence, does all of the following: 1) violates either a) the basic speed rules, b) the speed limit in a school zone, c) the posted speed limit or d) the prohibition against driving >75 mph. 2) Commits two or more of the following offenses: a) failing to obey a traffic control device; b) overtaking and passing another vehicle on the right by driving off the paved portion of the highway; c) driving unsafely or improperly upon a highway that has marked lanes for traffic; d) following another vehicle too closely; or e) failing to yield the right of way. 3) Creates an immediate hazard, regardless of its duration, to another vehicle or person. Six months (3) $1,000 (3) 30 days  (2),              One year on second offense
New Jersey New Jersey enforces against aggressive driving by charging under 39:4-97 (Careless Driving), 39:4-97.2 (Operating a vehicle in an Unsafe Manner) or any other statute at the discretion of the officer. Assault by auto or vessel is a crime of the third degree if the person purposely drives a vehicle in an aggressive manner directed at another vehicle and serious bodily injury results and is a crime of the fourth degree if he person purposely drives a vehicle in an aggressive manner directed at another vehicle and bodily injury results. For purposes of this paragraph, "driving a vehicle in an aggressive manner" shall include, but is not limited to, unexpectedly altering the speed of the vehicle, making improper or erratic traffic lane changes, disregarding traffic control devices, failing to yield the right of way or following another vehicle too closely. None $150,                          $50 minimum, $250 surcharge mandatory None
North Carolina Any person who operates a motor vehicle on a street, highway or public vehicular area is guilty of aggressive driving if the person: 1) violates speed laws or speeding in school zone laws, and 2) drives carelessly and heed- lessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others. The state must show that the person commit- ted two or more of the below specified offenses while n violation of the aforementioned section): 1) running through a red light, 2) running through a stop sign, 3) ille- gal passing, 4) failing to yield right-of-way and 5) follow- ing too closely. A person convicted of aggressive driving is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. 45 days  (3) At the discretion of the court  (3) None
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania does not have an aggressive driving law per se. In 2006, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a resolution to encourage drivers to drive courte- ously and defensively, not aggressively. The House also resolved to support measures that would promote safe driving practices in the Commonwealth. None None None
Rhode Island "Aggressive Driving" is defined as operating a motor vehi- cle in violation of any speed law and a violation of two or more of the following traffic law provisions: 1) obedience to traffic control devices; 2) overtaking on the right; 3) driving within a traffic lane; 4) following too closely— interval between vehicles; 5) yielding right-of-way; 6) entering the roadway; 7) use of turn signals; 8) relating to school buses, special stops, stop signs and yield signs; and 9) use of emergency break-down lane for travel. None $500 30 days  (7)
Utah Utah does not have an aggressive driving law per se, but reckless driving is similar to aggressive driving offenses in other states. Reckless driving is defined as operating a vehicle either 1) "in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property" or 2) "while committing three or more moving traffic violations under Title 41, Chapter 6, Traffic Rules and Regulations, in a series of acts within a single continuous period of driving." Six months  (1) $1,000  (1) Three months  (2,3)
Vermont The statute prohibits following too closely, crowding and harassment. “The driver of a vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and pru- dent, having due regard for the speed of the vehicles and the traffic upon, and the conditions of, the highway.” None None None
Virginia A person is guilty of aggressive driving if the person i) violates one or more of the following: driving on right side of highways, failing to observe lanes marked for traffic, following too closely, not yielding or stopping before entering certain highways, evading traffic control devices, passing when overtaking a vehicle, passing on the right when overtaking a vehicle, not giving way to certain overtaking vehicles on divided highway, speeding or dangerously stopping on highways; and ii) that person is a hazard to another person or commits an offense in clause (i) with the intent to harass, intimidate, injure or obstruct another person. Six months $1,000 Six months  (6),       10 days mandatory

 

Notes | Appendix G
  1. This sanction applies to first and subsequent offenses.
  2. Licensing action is in the form of a suspension.
  3. This applies to the first offense.
  4. Since offenders may be prosecuted for and convicted of the underlying offenses, they are subject to licensing action associated with violating such offenses.
  5. The law is a defining statute but does not permit enforcement.
  6. Points are assessed against the driver for an offense.
  7. The law provides that a person’s license may be subject to a minimum 30-day suspension. This sanction appears to apply only to first offenders.

 

Sources: NHTSA, Governors Highway Safety Association, and NCSL, 2017

Appendix H

State Maximum Posted Speed Limit Laws
STATE/JURISDICTION RURAL INTERSTATES URBAN INTERSTATES OTHER LIMITED ACCESS ROADS OTHER ROADS
Alabama 70 65 65 65
Alaska 65 55 65 55
Arizona 75 65 65 65
Arkansas 751 751 751 65
California 70; trucks: 55 65; trucks: 55 70; trucks: 55 65; trucks: 55
Colorado 75 65 65 65
Connecticut 65 55 65 55
Delaware 65 55 65 55
Florida 70 65 70 65
Georgia 702 70 65 65
Hawaii 603 603 553 453
Idaho 75; 80 on specified segments of road; 4 trucks: 70 75; 80 on specified segments of road; 4 trucks: 65 70 70
Illinois 705 55 65 55
Indiana 70; trucks: 65 55 60 55
Iowa 70 55 70 65
Kansas 75 75 75 65
Kentucky 65; 70 on specified segments of roads 65 65 55
Louisiana 75 70 70 65
Maine 75 75 75 60
Maryland 70 70 70 55
Massachusetts 65 65 65 55
Michigan 70 (65 trucks); 75 (65 trucks) on specified segments of road 70 70 55
Minnesota 70 65 65 60
Mississippi 70 70 70 65
Missouri 70 60 70 65
Montana 80; trucks: 65 65 day: 70; night: 65 day: 70; night: 65
Nebraska 75 65 65 60
Nevada 80 65 70 70
New Hampshire 65; 70 on specified segments of road  (7) 65 55 55
New Jersey 65 55 65 55
New Mexico 75 75 65 55
New York 65 65 65 55
North Carolina 70 70 70 55
North Dakota 75 75 70 65
Ohio 70 65 70 55
Oklahoma 758 70 70 70
Oregon 65; 70 on specified segments of road; trucks: 55 or 65 on specified segments of road 55 65 65
Pennsylvania 70 70 70 55
Rhode Island9 65 55 55 55
South Carolina 70 70 60 55
South Dakota 80 8010 70 70
Tennessee 70 70 70 65
Texas 75; 80 or 85 on specified segments  (11) 75 75 75
Utah 75; 80 on specified segments12 65 75 65
Vermont 65 55 50 50
Virginia 70 70 65 55
Washington 70; 75 on specified segments of road  (13); trucks: 60 60 60 60
West Virginia  (14) 70 55 65 55
Wisconsin 70 70 70 55
Wyoming 75; 80 on specified segments of road  (15) 75; 80 on specified segments of road  (15) 70 70
District of Columbia n/a 55 n/a 25
Guam  (16) n/a n/a n/a n/a
Puerto Rico 65 65 n/a n/a
U.S. Virgin Islands 40 55 20 n/a

 

Notes | Appendix H
  1. In Arkansas, the speed limit may be raised on a controlled-access highway to 75 mph if based on traffic and engineering studies.
  2. Georgia’s “Super Speeder Law” adds $200 in state fees for any driver convicted of speeding at more than 75 mph on any two-lane roads or at more than 85 mph on multiple- lane roads anywhere in the state.
  3. In Hawaii, the maximum speed limit is established by county ordinance or by the director of transportation.
  4. In Idaho, the speed limit may be increased to 80 mph on specific segments of highway on the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation.
  5. The Illinois law allows Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Madison, McHenry, St. Clair and Will counties to opt out by adopting an ordinance that sets a lower maximum speed limit, empowering counties to make adjustments based on local needs. These counties have a maximum large truck speed limit of 60 mph outside urban districts and 55 mph inside urban districts.
  6. In Kentucky, the speed limit may be increased to 70 mph on specific segments of highway upon the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation.
  7. New Hampshire HB 146 (2013) raised the speed limit from 65 mph to 70 mph on the portion of I-93 from mile marker 45 to the Vermont border.

 

  1. In Oklahoma, the DOT may increase the speed limit beyond 75 mph on any highway or part of a highway based on an engineering and traffic investigation.
  2. Rhode Island speed limits are not set by law, but by the state traffic commission.
  3. In South Dakota, the Transportation Commission may establish a maximum speed limit of less than 80 mph on any highway or portion of highway under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation, and any portion of highway under the jurisdiction of a state or federal agency.
  4. On sections of I-10 and I-20 in west Texas and sections of Highway 45 in Travis County, Texas, the speed limit for passenger cars and light trucks is 80 mph. Speed limits may be established not to exceed 85 mph if the highway is originally constructed and designed to accommodate the higher speed and it has been determined by an engineering study to be reasonable and safe. State Highway 130 (portions toll) has a posted limit of 85 mph.
  5. In Utah, the speed limit may be increased beyond 75 mph on any freeway or limited access highway on the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation. The highest posted limit in Utah is currently 80 mph.
  6. In Washington, maximum speed limits on highways or portions of highways may be posted as high as 75 mph if based on a traffic and engineering study.
  7. West Virginia speed limits, in general, are not set by law, but by the commissioner of the Division of Highways.
  8. In Wyoming, the speed limit may be increased to 80 mph on specific segments of highway on the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation.
  9. Guam does not have any interstates. The maximum speed limits for cars and trucks are 35 mph in rural areas; 15 mph in residential areas; and 15 mph or 25 mph in school zones.

 

Sources: IIHS, GHSA and NCSL 2017.

Appendix I

State Policies Regarding Use of Traffic Cameras
STATE/JURISDICTION STATUTE CITATION POLICY
Alabama SB 411, SB 442, HB 511 (2011) Authorizes the use of cameras to enforce red light violations and speed laws through both state law and city ordinance. Fines are approximately $110; no points assessed. Currently the cities of Center Point, Midfield, Opelika, Phenix City, Selma, and Tuscaloosa to use automated traffic light enforcement. Center Point and Midfield currently have cameras to enforce speed laws as well.
Alaska No State Law  
Arizona §§28-1201, et seq. (2014) Authorizes use of cameras to enforce speed laws and red light violations. Requires signs where the enforcement is used. Maximum fine of $250; two (red light) and three (speed) points assessed.
Arkansas §27-52-110 (2014) Use of photo radar by county or state government is prohibited except in school zones and at railroad crossings. Officer must be present and citation must be issued at time of the offense. Cameras are permitted to enforce speed limit violations.
Colorado §42-4-110.5 (2014) Authorizes use of cameras to enforce speed laws and traffic light violations. Speed radar limited to construction and school zones, residential areas or adjacent to a municipal park. Maximum fine of $75 for red light violation, $40 for speeding (fine doubles in a school zone); no points assessed.1 Conspicuous sign no less than 200 feet before the automated system must warn motorists of system.
Connecticut No State Law  
Delaware Tit. 21 §4101(d) (2014) Authorizes a red light camera program throughout the state. Maximum fine of $110, no points assessed and offense cannot be used by insurers.
District of Columbia DC Code §§50-2209.01, et seq. Authorizes an automated traffic enforcement program in the District of Columbia for all moving infractions. For speed violations, $50-$300 maximum fine based on the miles per hour over the posted speed limit. Red light violations $150 maximum fine. No points assessed.
Florida §§316.003, 316.007, 316.0083 (2014) Authorizes use of cameras for red light violations. Maximum fine of $158, no points assessed.
Georgia §40-6-20 (2014) Authorizes use of photo-monitoring devices to detect red light violations. Devices cannot be used to produce any photograph, microphotograph, electronic image or videotape showing the identity of any person in a motor vehicle. Maximum fine of $70, no points assessed. Not a moving violation; cannot be used by insurers.
Hawaii No State Law  
Idaho No State Law  
Illinois Ch. 625 §§7/10, 5/11-1201.1, 5/11-612 (2014) Cameras used to enforce speed limits are permitted statewide in construction zones or Illinois Toll Authority roads. Certain counties with local ordinances can use cameras to enforce red light violations. Any county or municipality can use cameras to enforce rail crossing violations in cooperation with IL-DOT and IL-CC; ordinance required. Local authorities cannot use cameras for other speed offenses (the state can use only if an officer is present) statewide. County or municipality may use automated railroad grade crossing enforcement system at any railroad grade crossing equipped with a crossing gate designated by local authorities. Minimum fine of $250 for first violation at a rail crossing, minimum fine of $375 for a speed violation in a construction zone while workers are present.; $100 maximum fine or completion of a traffic education program, or both for red light offenders; not a moving violation or recorded offense.
Indiana No State Law  
Iowa No State Law Specified jurisdictions have authorized the use of cameras to enforce speed laws and red light violations via city ordinances. Fines for red light violations range from $65 to $100, depending on the jurisdiction. Fines for speed limit violations range from $5 to $500, depending on jurisdiction and speed above the limit.
Kansas No State Law  
Kentucky No State Law  
Louisiana LA. Stat. Ann. §§32:393(I), 32:43, 32:44 (2014) Local municipal or parish authorities may not use automated speed enforcement on interstate highways except in DOT-approved construction zones when workers are present. Convictions resulting from camera enforcement cannot be reported for inclusion in driver record. Specified jurisdictions also have enforcement cameras for red light violations. Fines range from $100 to $125 depending on the jurisdiction. Shall have signs indicating that a red light or speed camera is present within 500 feet of each camera.
Maine Tit. 29-A §2117 (2014) Prohibits both speed and red light camera enforcement.
Maryland Md. Code Ann., Transp. § 21-202.1, Md. Code Ann., Transp. § 21-809 Authorizes use of red light cameras statewide. Maximum civil penalty of $100, no points assessed, not a moving violation and may not be used by insurers. School zones and residential districts in Montgomery County, near institutes of higher education in Prince George’s County, statewide in school zones by local ordinance and work zones are authorized to use photo enforcement for speed; $40 maximum fine, no points assessed. Montgomery County and Prince George’s County can use automated enforcement at railroad crossings; $100 maximum fine, no points.
Massachusetts No State Law  
Michigan No State Law  
Minnesota No State Law  
Mississippi HB 1568 (2009) Prohibits all localities from using automated enforcement.
     
Missouri No State Law Individual jurisdictions are allowed to pass ordinances permitting red light and speed enforcement via cameras. For red light violations, the fine is generally $100 and does not assess any points to your license. For speed violations, the fine is $100 with some jurisdictions increasing the fine to $200 if the driver was traveling 20mph or more over the speed limit.
Montana §61-8-203 (2013) Prohibits all localities from using automated enforcement. Cameras at railroad grade crossings excepted.
Nebraska No State Law  
Nevada §484a.600 (2014) Prohibits use of camera equipment unless it is held by an officer or installed in a law enforcement vehicle or facility.
New Hampshire §236:130 (2014) Automated enforcement is prohibited unless there is specific statutory authorization. It is authorized for toll enforcement.
New Jersey §39:4-103.1 (2014) Prohibits use of camera radar by law enforcement officers or agencies
New Mexico N.M. Stat. Ann. § 66-7-101 No state law authorizing photo radar use. NMDOT has banned red light cameras and mobile enforcement vans on state and federal roadways, but state law requires counties and municipalities using photo enforcement to post a warning sign and beacon.
New York N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law §§1111-a; 1111-D; & 1180-b (McKinney) Authorizes red light enforcement in cities with populations of more than 1 million with a maximum of 150 intersections. Maximum fine of $50, no points assessed and may not be used by insurers. Authorizes speed cameras in school zones in cities with populations of more than 1 million. Maximum fine of $50, no points assessed. Counties of Nassau and Suffolk, cities of Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, by local ordinance, up to 50 intersections; Yonkers, by local ordinance, up to 25 intersections; Mt. Vernon, by local ordinance, up to 12 intersections.
North Carolina §160A-300.1 (2014) Authorizes certain cities to operate a red light camera program. Maximum civil penalty of $100, no points assessed.
North Dakota No State Law  
Oklahoma No State Law  
Oregon Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§810.438, 810.434 (2017) Authorizes use of photo radar in specific jurisdictions to detect speed violations; may not be used for more than four hours per day, per location. Driver must be traveling 11mph or more over the speed limit to receive a citation. Allows use of red light cameras statewide.
Pennsylvania Tit.75 §§3116, 3117 (2014) Authorizes use of red light cameras in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and municipalities where population exceeds 20,000; requires local ordinance. Maximum fine of $100; not on operating record.
Rhode Island §31-41.2-1, et seq. (2014)   Authorizes statewide use of red light cameras. Maximum fine of $85, not a criminal or record offense, and not to be used by insurers until there is a final adjudication of the violation. Authorizes cameras for school bus safety enforcement.
South Carolina §56-5-70 (2014) Photo enforcement prohibited with exceptions; citations for violating traffic laws relating to speed or disregarding traffic control devices can be used only when the state declares an emergency. Citations must be served in person within one hour of the violation.
South Dakota §§32-28-17, 32-28-21, 22 Red light cameras are prohibited, and the DMV does not provide to other states information used to collect fines from violations captured by red light and speed cameras.
Tennessee §55-8-198 Photo enforcement authorized statewide for traffic violations. Maximum fine of $50, no points assessed. Appropriate signage must be located between 500 and 1,000 feet in advance of the intersection, informing drivers of the presence of surveillance cameras at the approaching intersection. Traffic surveillance cameras not allowed on interstate highways except in construction zones. Traffic enforcement cameras that monitor speed cannot be used on public roads or highways unless it is within a designated distance of a marked school zone or on any S-curve of a public road or highway.
Texas Transportation Code §707.001, et seq. (Vernon 2014) Texas municipalities not allowed to use photo enforcement to enforce speed violations. Photo enforcement authorized statewide for red light violations; requires local ordinance. Maximum fine of $75, not a criminal or record offense.
Utah §41-6a-608 (2014) Limits the use of cameras for speed enforcement to school zones, areas with speed limits of 30 mph or less, when a police officer is present, when signs are posted giving notice to motorists of camera use, and when the citation is accompanied by the photograph produced by the camera radar.
Vermont No State Law  
Virginia §§46.2-833.1, 15.2-968.1 (2014) Authorizes counties, cities and towns to operate red light cameras at no more than one intersection for every 10,000 residents; requires local ordinance. Authorizes up to 10 camera sites in Washington, D.C., metro area. Requires that traffic signals where red light cameras are operated have a yellow light phase that is at least three seconds long. Maximum fine of $50; no points assessed and may not be used by insurers.
Washington §46.63.170 (2014) Cities and counties statewide are authorized to enforce, through photos, red light violations at two-arterial intersections, rail crossings and school speed zones. Local ordinances are required. Maximum fine of $250; no record and no points assessed. Cameras enforcing speed limits are allowed in school zones and must be prohibited under a city ordinance. The fine cannot be more than the fine for a parking infraction within the jurisdiction. These violations are processed the same as a parking infraction.
West Virginia §17C-6-7a (2014) All photo enforcement is prohibited.
Wisconsin §349.02 Speed cameras are prohibited.
Wyoming No State Law  

 

Notes | Appendix I
  1. Driver given only a warning for first photo radar offense if speed is within 10 mph of limit.
  2. State courts in Missouri and Ohio found automated traffic enforcement to be unconstitutional.

Sources IIHS and NCSL, 2017.

Appendix J

Motorcycle Helmet Use Requirements
ALL RIDERS SPECIFIC SEGMENT OF RIDERS (USUALLY UNDER AGE 21 OR AGE 18) NOHELMET REQUIRED

Alabama

Alaska1

Illinois

California

Arizona

Iowa

Georgia

Arkansas

New Hampshire

Louisiana

Colorado

 

Maryland

Connecticut

 

Massachusetts

Delaware  (2)

 

Mississippi

Florida3  ()

 

Missouri

Hawaii

 

Nebraska

Idaho

 

Nevada

Indiana

 

New Jersey

Kansas

 

New York

Kentucky  (4)4

 

North Carolina

Maine5

 

Oregon

Michigan  (6)

 

Tennessee

Minnesota  (7)

 

Vermont

Montana

 

Virginia

New Mexico

 

Washington

North Dakota  (8)

 

West Virginia

Ohio9

 

American Samoa

Oklahoma

 

District of Columbia

Pennsylvania1  (10)

 

Northern Marianas

Rhode Island11

 

Puerto Rico14

South Carolina

 

U.S.Virgin Islands

South Dakota

 

 

Texas  (12)

 

 

Utah

 

 

Wisconsin  (13)

 

 

Wyoming

 

 

Guam

 

 

Notes | Appendix J
  1. Alaska’s motorcycle helmet use law covers passengers of all ages, operators younger than age 18, and operators with instructional permits.
  2. In Delaware, every motorcycle operator or rider age 19 and older must carry an approved helmet.
  3. Florida law requires that all riders younger than age 21 wear helmets, without exception. Those age 21 and older can ride without helmets only if they can show proof of coverage by a medical insurance policy.
  4. Kentucky law requires that all riders younger than age 21 wear helmets, without exception. Those age 21 and older can ride without helmets only if they can show proof of coverage by a medical insurance policy. Motorcycle helmet laws in Kentucky also cover operators with instructional/ learner’s permits.
  5. Motorcycle helmet laws in Maine cover operators with instructional/learner’s permits. Maine’s motorcycle helmet use law also covers passengers ages 17 and younger and passengers if their operators are required to wear a helmet.
  6. Michigan law requires that all riders younger than age 21 years wear helmets, without exception. Those age 21 and older may ride without helmets only if they carry additional insurance and have passed a motorcycle safety course or have had their motorcycle endorsement for at least two years. Motorcycle passengers who want to exercise this option also must be age 21 or older and carry additional insurance.
  7. Motorcycle helmet laws in Minnesota cover operators with instructional/learner’s permits.
  8. North Dakota’s motorcycle helmet use law covers all passengers traveling with operators who are covered by the law.
  9. Ohio’s motorcycle helmet use law covers all operators during the first year of licensure and all passengers of operators who are covered by the law.
  10. Pennsylvania’s motorcycle helmet use law covers all operators during the first two years of licensure unless the operator has completed the safety course approved by PennDOT or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
  11. Rhode Island’s motorcycle helmet use law covers all passengers (regardless of age) and all operators during the first year of licensure (regardless of age).
  12. Texas exempts riders age 21 or older if they can either show proof of successfully completing a motorcycle operator training and safety course or can show proof they have a medical insurance policy. A peace officer cannot stop or detain a person who is the operator of or a passenger on a motorcycle for the sole purpose of determining whether the person has successfully completed the motorcycle operator training and safety course or is covered by a health insurance plan.
  13. Motorcycle helmet laws in Wisconsin cover operators with instructional/learner’s permits.
  14. Puerto Rico strengthened its motorcycle law in 2007. The law requires riders to wear helmets, boots, gloves and reflective gear while riding at night. The law also imposed new testing requirements.

Sources: GHSA, IIHS and NCSL, 2017.