Fruits of 20 Years of Highway Safety Legislative Advocacy in the United States

This paper, from a conference on crash injury control, reports on a study that modeled the effects on crash fatalities and costs of 20 years of legislative actions resulting from Federal and state advocacy efforts. The authors cataloged road safety laws passed between 1990 and 2009 as well as motorcycle helmet law repeals that advocacy efforts narrowly defeated. The study used NHTSA’s estimates of lives saved by airbags and published estimates of the percentage reduction in related crash fatalities associated with each type of law. The authors modeled how many fatalities each state's laws averted, figuring state by state and year by year, from the actual fatality count for the year. The study also considered crash costs, using estimates for 10 years between 1990 and 2008 to estimate total crash costs from 1990-2009. The state laws passed included 113 occupant protection laws, 131 impaired driving laws, and 76 teen driving laws, plus a Federal airbag mandate. The data showed that these laws saved an estimated 120,000 lives. The life-saving benefits accelerated as the number of laws in force grew. By 2009, they resulted in 25% fewer crash fatalities. The largest life-saving benefits sprang from airbag, seat belt use, and impaired driving laws. Laws that affect narrow subpopulations had more modest impacts. The laws reduced insurance costs by more than $210 billion and saved government an estimated $42 billion. If the value of lost quality of life was included, estimated savings exceeded $1.3 trillion. The authors conclude with a discussion of the benefits of highway safety research, noting that such research can provide the facts needed to overcome well-funded efforts to stall or reject controversial laws that can yield large benefits.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: pp 357-364
  • Monograph Title: Annals of Advances in Automotive Medicine. 55th Annual Scientific Conference, Paris, France, October 3-5, 2011
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01357662
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, ATRI
  • Created Date: Nov 16 2011 2:50PM