Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 | 3:05 p.m.
CARSON CITY — Nevada should add traffic laws to curb the rising number of highway deaths, according to a national safety group that ranks the state in the middle of the pack for safety.
In its 10th annual report, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety suggest Nevada adopt such things as an ignition interlock law, more restrictions on teen drivers and a primary seat belt enforcement law.
Jacqueline S. Gillan, president of the coalition based in Washington, D.C., said that “traffic safety laws to protect children and teens, keep drunk drivers off of our roads and stop distracted driving have the potential to save thousands of lives and billions of dollars annually.”
State officials reported last week that 258 people were killed in traffic crashes in 2012, up from 246 in 2011. About half of those killed were not wearing a seat belt, officials said.
Rudy Malfabon, director of the state Department of Transportation, said his agency is not sponsoring a primary seat belt law but would support it if it is introduced in the Legislature.
Now, police can only issue a citation for not wearing a seat belt if the motorist is stopped for another violation. A primary seat belt law would permit officers to stop cars for the sole reason of people not being buckled up.
Nevada, according to the safety group, has eight of 15 recommended traffic safety laws.
New York is rated tops with 13, and South Dakota ranks last with three.
Gillan said a 2012 federal law provides financial incentives for adopting the recommended safety laws.
One recommendation is Nevada pass an ignition interlock law. Drivers convicted of drunk driving would be required to have the device in their vehicles, which could not be started without passing a breath-analyzer test.
The group also recommends Nevada put restrictions on night driving by teens. It said 20 percent of teens killed in crashes occur from 9 p.m. to midnight.
Nevada should also require booster seats for children up to 7 years old, the group said.