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Watchdog group calls for unified traffic laws in D.C., Md. and Va.

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Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, a watchdog group, says the smorgasbord of highway laws in Maryland, Virginia and D.C. is a serious problem.

The numbers are sobering - some 15,000 people killed in car accidents in the three jurisdictions in 10 years.

Koury Thomas of D.C. said, "It's a disgrace. Yeah, I am sure that there is something that can be done, but it is just a matter of someone coming forward and doing something about it."

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety says the District is doing something. The city has enacted 12 of the organization's 15 suggested safety laws, including an ignition interlock device requirement to prevent those convicted of drunk driving from doing it again.

"People are traveling between D.C., Maryland and Virginia, and it doesn't make sense that we have different rules for the road," said Jackie Gillan, the president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

Maryland has passed 10 recommended highway safety laws; Virginia has passed eight.

The Commonwealth still does not allow police to pull anyone over for not wearing a seat belt. You can only get a ticket is you are pulled over for something else.

Gillan added, "Over half of the people killed in Virginia in crashes were not wearing a seat belt."

After a steady decline in the number of traffic fatalities, there's been a recent spike. The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety hope to pressure surrounding jurisdictions to unify their laws and make roads throughout the metro area safer.

Luke Lima of Woodbridge said, "It's a good idea that they come together and try to come up with something that is universal for everyone in the District and in Virginia and in Maryland."

Aside from calling for tougher seat belt laws in Virginia, the group would like to see harsher penalties for texting while driving and more restrictions on teenagers driving at night.

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