By Jim Donovan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new study shows a lack of driver safety laws could help explain the surging number of people killed in accidents.
The report from “Advocates For Highway and Auto Safety” ranks driving safety laws nationwide.
3 On Your Side’s Jim Donovan shows us how the states in our region rank when it comes to making roads safe.
“Our lives have been drastically changed and shattered,” said James Shaffer.
Shaffer’s wife Emma and their 12-year-old daughter were driving in Denton, Texas last April.
They were struck head-on by a 24-year-old mother who had her young daughter in the car. Police believe she was texting.
All four died in the crash.
Shaffer says he will never forget having to tell his son the news.
“Sitting him down and having to explain to him that his mother and sister were gone and had died was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life,” Shaffer said.
Texas state law only bans drivers under 18 from texting.
An all driver texting ban is among 15 safety laws the new report says every state should have.
The measures range from primary enforcement of seat belts, to graduated driver licenses for teens, and ignition locks for DUI offenders.
The report gave low marks to 17 states for being “dangerously behind” in adopting “optimal laws.”
Among those with poor marks: Pennsylvania.
New Jersey received higher marks, but still “needs improvement.”
Delaware was among the best ranked states, considered “significantly advanced.”
Earlier this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated nearly 28,000 people died in crashes. That number is up about 8% from 2015, which saw the biggest rise in deaths in 50 years.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety say crashes also come with an economic cost.
According to the report, motor vehicle accidents cost about $242 billion a year.
That so-called “crash tax” boils down to nearly $800 per person in the U.S.