5/19/2014Activist Group Ranks States Most Friendly To Motorists
National Motorists Association ranks the top eight worst and best states for drivers.
Drivers are happiest in the state of Wyoming and most harassed when traveling through the District of Columbia, according to rankings published Monday by the National Motorists Association (NMA). The drivers' rights group scored each state (and the District) based on five main factors related to how the government interacts with the motoring public.
"Driving in the United States can be hazardous, not only to your health, but to your civil rights and pocket book as well," the group explained. "Because each state treats motorists differently, how well you fare depends on which state you are driving in."
The NMA evaluated the legal protections available to motorists and gave states points based on whether trial by jury is allowed for traffic tickets, whether the case is heard by a real judge and whether the accused has the right of discovery in traffic cases.
"The relationship between state and motorist lies somewhere on the scale between 'to protect and serve' and 'command and control,'" NMA President Gary Biller told TheNewspaper. "It depends greatly on how the fuel tax, tolls and other user fees are collected, how fines are levied, and the degree to which that revenue is used to maintain and improve public roadways (not to mention highway safety) vs. being diverted for use on unrelated projects. We, as the oldest and largest drivers' rights organization in the US, decided to quantify that relationship on a state-by-state basis."
Regulations were evaluated based on whether speed limits were set appropriately, whether police can stop people merely for choosing not to wear a seatbelt, whether cell phone use while driving is banned and whether the state has a tax on license points or "driver responsibility" tax. States lost points for having lots of speed traps and roadblocks, photo enforcement and regular ticket blitzes. The cost of driving, in terms of tolls, taxes, fees and insurance costs were also taken into account. Finally, the rankings took into consideration each state's fiscal responsibility. Jurisdictions that raid gas tax funds for non-motoring projects such as bicycle paths and mass transit lost points.
"The NMA rankings show that all states have much room for improvement in treating motorists as part of the citizenry they answer to rather than as revenue sources to exploit," Biller said. "How else explain tactics such as ticket blitzes and nearly non-existent constitutional rights for defendants in many traffic courts?"
Montana aced the regulations category, while South Dakota and Wyoming were tops in fiscal responsibility. DC scored a zero in legal protection and New Jersey's massive tax regime gave it a miserable 1 out of 15 score in the cost of driving.
Treat Motorists Worst
- District of Columbia
- New York
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
Treat Motorists Best
- North Dakota
- South Dakota