Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, "an alliance of consumer, health and safety groups and insurance companies and agents working together to make America's roads safer" released their annual report on highway safety laws. It doesn't mention cycling or walking other than noting that traffic fatalities for both groups is up. Nonetheless, the report does cover some areas - impairment, distracted driving and driving by young people - that are relevant to road safety for all users.
The report comes out strongly in favor of automated enforcement, underride guards on trucks, speed limiting devices on trucks, lane departure warning devices and automatic emergency braking (AEB). They also advocate mandating that car buyers be allowed to buy additional safety features separate from other options in a package.
Many of the laws they advocate are focused on keeping drivers and passengers safety, below I've focused on the ones most focused on avoiding crashes, not those on surviving them.
There are six laws dealing with teen driving that Advocates is promoting and neither DC, VA or MD have them all.
Learner’s Stage: Minimum Age 16 for Learner’s Permit - A beginning teen driver is prohibited from obtaining a learner’s permit until the age of 16. States have not been given credit if the law allows for a beginning driver to obtain a learner’s permit before the age of 16.
Learner’s Stage: 50 Hours of Supervised Driving Provision - A beginning teen driver must receive at least 50 hours of behind-the-wheel training, 10 of which must be at night, with an adult licensed driver during the learner’s stage. States have not been given credit if the number of required supervised driving hours is less than 50, does not require 10 hours of night driving, or if there is a reduction in the required number of hours of supervised driving (to less than 50 hours) for drivers who take a driver education course.
Intermediate Stage: Nighttime Driving Restriction Provision - Unsupervised driving should be prohibited from at least 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. States have not been given credit if the nighttime driving restriction does not span the entire 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. minimum time range for all days of the week
Intermediate Stage: Passenger Restriction Provision - This provision limits the number of passengers who may legally ride with a teen driver without adult supervision. The optimal limit is no more than one non-familial passenger younger than age 21.
Age 18 for Unrestricted License - A teen driver is prohibited from obtaining an unrestricted license until the age of 18, and either the nighttime or the passenger restrictions, or both, must last until age 18 and meet the definition for an optimal law. States have not been given credit if teen drivers can obtain an unrestricted license before age 18.
DC doesn't require 50 hours of supervised driving prior to getting a license, doesn't limit young drivers to day time driving and doesn't limit unrestricted licenses to those over 18.
MD doesn't require drivers to be 16 to get a learner's permit, doesn't limit young drivers to day time driving or to a certain number of passengers and doesn't limit unrestricted licenses to those over 18.
VA rates lowest since it doesn't require drivers to be 16 to get a learner's permit, doesn't require 50 hours of supervised driving prior to getting a license, doesn't limit young drivers to day time driving or to a certain number of passengers and doesn't limit unrestricted licenses to those over 18.
There are three laws dealing with impairment that Advocates is promoting and only VA fails to get all three as they don't have an open container law.
Open Container Law - This law prohibits open containers of alcohol in the passenger area of a motor vehicle. To comply with federal requirements, the law must: prohibit both possession of any open alcoholic beverage container and the consumption of alcohol from an open container; apply to the entire passenger area of any motor vehicle; apply to all vehicle occupants except for passengers of buses, taxi cabs, limousines or persons in the living quarters of motor homes; apply to vehicles on the shoulder of public highways; and, require primary enforcement of the law. State laws are counted in this report only if they are in compliance with the federal law and regulation.
There are two laws dealing with distracted driving that Advocates is promoting and only MD has them both. Both DC and VA lack a law restricting phone use by new drivers.
Graduated Driver's License Cell Phone Restriction - This restriction prohibits all use of cellular devices (hand-held, hands-free and text messaging) by beginning teen drivers, except in an emergency. States are only given credit if the provision lasts for the entire duration of the GDL program (both learner’s and intermediate stages).
Overall DC is rated green, MD is yellow and VA is red.