Safety advocates applaud SAFETEA-LU

News AASHTO August 15, 2005
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Safety advocates praised a number of safety provisions contained in the reauthorization legislation signed recently by President Bush, which will require comprehensive safety plans, new car-window stickers with safety ratings, increased funding for formula safety grants and safety belt incentives.

The bill includes $3.8 billion for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a 120% increase over the $1.7 billion in TEA-21.

The Governors Highway Safety Association issued a statement applauding a number of provisions of the bill, including:

• Increased funding for behavioral highway safety grant programs, especially for the Section 402 program – the federal highway safety grant program that is apportioned to every state;

• A large incentive for states to enact a primary safety belt law or to attain an 85% safety belt usage over two years. In addition, the bill would authorize $25 million a year for states that satisfy other occupant protection criteria. The latter will provide funding for states to continue high visibility safety belt enforcement efforts such as ‘Click it or Ticket;’

• The impaired driving incentive program which focuses impaired driving resources on the countermeasures that are most likely to have an impact on impaired driving;

• The new highway safety information system improvement grant program (TSIMS). The new program signifies that Congress recognizes the vital importance of good highway safety data for state highway safety efforts and that dedicated funding will help states automate their data systems and make other critical improvements in them;

• The requirement that states develop a comprehensive, strategic highway safety plan in consultation with State Highway Safety Offices and many other state, regional and local agencies.

The August 10 USA Today credited Senator Mike DeWine, who lost a daughter to a drunk driving accident, with winning a number of other safety provisions in the bill, such as:

• Requiring that new-car window stickers include National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) star ratings for front, side and rollover crash tests, effective with 2008 models;

• Requiring NHTSA to collect non-crash auto deaths and injuries from incidents with occur on private property;

• Requiring a NHSTA research program to improve drivers education and graduated teenage drivers licensing;

• Prohibiting the unauthorized sale and use of electronic devices that allow drivers to change traffic lights from red to green;

• Requiring states to identify, rank and publicize their more dangerous roads and intersections.

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