WDAY: The News Leader

Published February 04, 2014, 09:42 PM

North Dakota ranks among worst in nation for road safety

Fargo, N.D. (WDAY TV) -It may surprise you to hear North Dakota ranks among the worst in the nation for road safety.

Fargo, N.D. (WDAY TV) -It may surprise you to hear North Dakota ranks among the worst in the nation for road safety.

The group "Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety" highlights 15 driving laws every state should have and grades them according to how many are being implemented.

North Dakota is in the "Danger" zone.

Out of the 15 proposed laws, we've only implemented six.

Highway Fatalities in the state are high according to the highway patrol they jumped from 148 in 2011, to 170 in 2012.

You may have heard the saying.

State Sen. Tim Mathern, District 11: "driving is a privilege - not a right."

Senator Tim Mathern has been advocating for stricter driving laws, but says the public is pushing back.

Mathern: "We've had a lot of pressure against raising the age at which someone could get a driver’s license."

The current law toughens the rules on teen drivers.

The Graduated Driver’s License increases the time the youngest drivers have their permit to one year, and it also restricts nighttime driving and cellphone use.

In order to improve the state's safety grade, the advocacy group recommends enforcing a few laws including front and rear primary seat belts - motorcycle helmets, booster seats for youngsters, an ignition interlock and prohibiting teen drivers under 18 from obtaining an Unrestricted licenses or getting a permit before the age of 16.

Jon Dondoneau, Drivers Education instructor: "I think drivers ed is a key component to learning the safe skills of driving."

Jon Dondoneau teaches Behind the Wheel at South Fargo.

Dondoneau: "There are a lot of situations that will pop up that they're not familiar with."

From 2009 to 2012, 37 teenagers died.

Mathern: "I don't believe we should have this driver’s education just for young people. I believe it should be for everyone applying for a driver’s license."

New Americans, senior citizens, you name it.

Mathern: "It's not only saving lives it's saving insurance rates, property damage and that's important for our economy."

A new program is being launched this week by the state's Department of Transportation along with Ford.

It encourages teens and parents to practice driving together.