Jan 25, 2022 - News

Traffic deaths are up. Here's how to make Arkansas roads safer

Data:Ā Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

Arkansas is in the middle of the road compared to other states when it comes to enacting laws to make driving safer and reduce traffic deaths.

Why it matters: Action is needed to make roadways safer as traffic deaths climb at record rates despite fewer miles being driven, according to a new report from Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

Driving the news: Two Arkansas Department of Transportation workers have been killed by vehicles since early December.

  • A public safety awareness campaign and increased law enforcement near work zones is planned by ARDOT beginning Feb. 2.

What they did: The report ranks states based on 16 "optimal laws that every state should have as part of a comprehensive safety program."

  • Arkansas has enacted just nine of the 16, a middle ground ranking shared with 30 other states.

What we're missing: Per Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety...

  • A rear seat belt requirement.
  • An all-rider motorcycle helmet law.
  • A law requiring rear-facing booster seats for children under 2.
  • Stricter permit rules requiring a minimum age of 16 for a learner's permit, 50 hours of supervised driving for teens, and a nighttime driving restriction for teens.

Zoom out: More than 20,000 people died nationally in crashes during the first six months of 2021. The 18% increase from 2020 is the highest half-year percentage increase ever recorded.

  • That's about 110 traffic deaths a day.

Zoom in: There were 505 traffic fatalities in Arkansas in 2019, the most recent data available.

  • In all, more than 5,300 people in the state have died because of motor vehicle crashes between 2009 and 2019.

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