Montana flunks

    In a safety ranking of states where a B grade is the new A, not only did Montana flunk, we came in only four notches above the worst-ranked state, Missouri.

    I suppose we can take heart in the fact that no state garnered an A on the test, and we are but one among 11 states at the bottom. . .but, come on. . .at least we could’ve gotten a D? But, nope. We failed – and here’s why.

    The test

    A project of the ​National Safety Council, the State of Safety: A State-by-State Report, took one year to grade states “on actions and policies they have taken – or not taken – to reduce risk for all residents.”

    The State-by-State section shows how each state is doing regarding safety on the roads, in the home and community and in the workplace. It looks at things like how each state is legislating ways to prevent deaths from common safety perils in each of these locations.

    And, as you can imagine,

     those that promote big government and the nanny state got the highest scores.

    States like ours, which tend to treat us as adults who know how to take care of ourselves through common sense, flunked.

    For instance, Illinois (got a B, the highest grade awarded) gets credit for fulfilling all but one of the items listed under “Firearms” (oh, we’re shocked) and we fulfilled none of them.

    Yet, last year Chicago alone logged more than 700-gun deaths, more than any other major U.S. city, and the state had a total of 1,220 deaths by firearms. Montana had 205. So, tell us again how safe Illinois is?

    Not all safety legislation is bad, though

    Did you know that 11 states don’t have an open container law for either drivers or passengers? Seriously, you can drive around with that open can of brew and not worry about getting popped for it if you’re pulled over for swerving in and out of traffic like the drunken fool you are.

    We aren’t among the 11 states, however, but those that are have a portion of their federal roadway funds diverted to education programs. Apparently, before Montana banned open containers in cars, we were losing upwards of $5 million a year.

    Then, there’s Mississippi.

    In Mississippi, motorists can actually drink alcohol while they are driving.

    At any rate, among the study’s four categories under “Alcohol impaired driving,” we only got points for our ban on open containers. We lost points for not having a state sobriety checkpoint program, we don’t mandate a 90+ day license revocation when blood alcohol levels are at .08 or more and, Montana doesn’t invade our lives to the point where a first-time offender is forced to install an ignition interlock on his or her vehicle.

    On the other hand, I bet we’d be in the top rankings if the study were about how free Montana residents are from government interference compared to say. . .Washington, Oregon or California.

    Although Billings bans the use of handheld phones, the majority of the state doesn’t, which is why the state flunked that category. By the way, if you’re the parent of someone between the ages of 18 to 29, tell them to cut it out.

    More than half of drivers in that age range say that, despite laws against it, they texted or emailed while driving at least once in the past 30 days

    and a quarter of them say they do it regularly while driving, according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

    What we don’t do that we probably should

    Smoke alarms with 10-year batter lives and sprinklers are required in new homes in many states across the country. To me, this is a no-brainer since we have a multitude of statistics that show having these items in homes saves lives.

    Montana building codes do require smoke detectors but not the 10-year variety that the study required for a good grade.

    Twenty-seven states have defeated bills to mandate fire sprinklers in residences. In Montana, we defeated it but local jurisdictions have the authority to adopt federal requirements if they choose to do so.

    Take a look at how Montana scored on all the sections of the study, here.

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