FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 19, 2009
Contact: Jonathan Adkins or Barbara Harsha
(202)789-0942, ext. 13 or ext. 12
State Highway Safety Agencies Praise House
Concerned About Lack of Strong Data and Speed Enforcement Programs
Statement for Attribution to Barbara Harsha, Executive Director of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)
WASHINGTON, D.C.—GHSA thanks House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Jim Oberstar and Ranking Member John Mica as well as Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman Peter DeFazio and Ranking Member Jim Duncan for their excellent work in introducing a blueprint overview for the next highway reauthorization bill. The outline presents principals and broad ideas on what the next surface transportation bill will look like. Many of GHSA’s recommendations are included, and the Association looks forward to working with the House to craft a final bill.
In particular, GHSA is pleased the Committee’s blueprint:
- Doubles funding for motor carrier and highway safety programs. As noted in GHSA’s recommendations report, Toward Zero Deaths: A 10-Point Plan for Reauthorizing the Federal Highway Safety Program, adequate funding is key to reducing highway deaths and injuries;
- Streamlines highway safety programs and consolidates them. Currently, there is one formula grant program and seven incentive grants and penalty transfer programs, all with different applications and different deadlines. The House approach streamlines these programs into one larger program with one application, just as GHSA suggested;
- Allows transferring of funds between behavioral highway safety focus areas; and
- Requires specific performance measures for state programs. GHSA and NHTSA have already jointly developed these measures.
However, there are a few unclear areas in the blueprint that cause concern. These include:
- A lack of reference to specific funding for data programs. Performance-based federal highway safety grant programs rely on the latest fatality, injury and other related data to be effective, so funding for data improvements is critical. The Committee may be assuming that data programs can be funded as part of the new larger grant program.
- A lack of reference to speeding as a focus area. Speed continues to be a factor in approximately 13,000 deaths a year and it must be addressed to take the nation Toward Zero Deaths. Again, the committee may be assuming speed can be addressed in the new program, but GHSA urges that it be added as a fourth behavioral focus area.
- Permitting the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to have the authority to take “such actions as necessary to bring the State’s performance plan into compliance and provide NHTSA the tools to ensure States achieve performance targeting in implementing the plan.” This language is ambiguous, and GHSA looks forward to clarification when the Committee releases its bill. GHSA is committed to improving state and federal performance in partnership with NHTSA as envisioned in the Highway Safety Act of 1966 which created the NHTSA grant programs.
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The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)® is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy and enhance program management. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Contact GHSA at 202-789-0942 or visit www.ghsa.org.