Earlier this week the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety issued a relatively uncontroversial report saying that urban roads are safer than rural roads in terms of traffic fatalities, since urban roads generally have slower speeds and better access to hospitals.
The Governors Highway Safety Association (last spotted blaming pedestrian fatalities on Michelle Obama), however, begs to differ:
Many traffic safety groups such as the Governors Highway Safety Association argue that such comparisons don’t accurately reflect how safe a state’s roads are. A better measure, they say, is whether states have enacted proven safety enhancements such as motorcycle helmet laws and primary seat belt laws, which allow police to stop motorists solely for being unbuckled. […]
Judith Stone, president of Washington, D.C.-based Advocates for Auto and Highway Safety, says the group does not consider fatalities when issuing its annual report card on states. “We look at laws and whether they’ve been passed,” Stone says. (Emph. added)
Advocates of stronger laws say it’s difficult to persuade a state such as New Hampshire, which has no seat belt or motorcycle helmet laws, to enact such rules when its death rate is below the U.S. average. “States like … New Hampshire could certainly save more lives by passing stronger laws,” says governors safety association spokesman Jonathan Adkins. “Legislators note these states have relatively low fatality rates and tend not to see the benefit in passing stronger laws.”