Highway death toll highest since 1990

News American Highway Users Alliance April 29, 2004
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In the wake of news by the U

In the wake of news by the U.S. Department of Transportation that 43,220 lives were lost on U.S. roads last year, the American Highway Users Alliance announced it support for National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Dr. Jeffrey Runge's statement encouraging every American to drive responsibly and wear seatbelts. The death toll is the highest since 1990.

"While most are aware of the need to improve driver behavior, attention needs to be paid to the elimination of roadway hazards," said Highway Users Senior Vice President Greg Cohen. "DOT estimates that roadway or roadside hazards contribute to a third of highway deaths. However, many states do not spend all of the funds provided by the federal government for hazard elimination.

"The six-year Senate highway reauthorization bill, SAFETEA, provides $7.9 billion for roadway safety improvements. In the House, the introduced bill, TEA-LU, provided $7.5 billion for elimination of road hazards and another $1.5 billion for rural two-lane road safety improvements. However, funding cuts were made before TEA-LU passed the House. These cuts disproportionately affected the roadway safety programs, cutting more than 50% of each. If safety is truly Congress' highest priority, the funding cuts must be restored," he added.

The Federal Highway Administration has evaluated road and bridge improvements over a 20-year period and found that constructing a new bridge, upgrading bridge rails and constructing medians for traffic separation could reduce fatalities by 86%, 75% and 73%, respectively.

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