According to a new study by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the state of Montana is "dangerously behind" in the adoption of optimal traffic safety laws and received a failing grade from the group.
The group's report, the 2018 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws, examined all 50 states on laws from impaired and distracted driving to child passenger safety. Montana was one of 12 states that failed to meet the traffic safety and car accident prevention standards set forth by the advocacy organization.
Montana has only 4 of the 16 optimal lifesaving laws identified in the report. Montana doesn't prohibit texting or using a cell phone while driving, doesn't have primary rear seat belt laws and doesn't require the use of rear-facing car seat or booster seats designed for child passenger safety.
According to the report, 37,461 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2016. The number of fatalities nationwide increased by 5.6 percent from the previous year and was the second year in a row in which there was an increase in deaths on the nation's highways.
Montana, for a change, actually bucked the national trend. Highway deaths here were down in both 2016 and 2017, at 190 and 186, respectively.
The findings, in their entirety, are available through the Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety website.
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