FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2015
Contact: Kara Macek, email@example.com
GROW AMERICA Act: State Highway Safety Group Generally Supportive, But Concerns Noted
Highway Safety Programs need flexibility, not more prescription
Statement for attribution to Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) Chairman Kendell Poole
WASHINGTON, D.C. – GHSA appreciates the Administration’s recent release of its updated long-term transportation proposal. The revised GROW AMERICA Act calls for a long-term six-year authorization that would provide needed stability to state programs.
Like its predecessor, this updated framework removes some administrative burdens that states currently face under MAP-21, such as the Maintenance of Effort requirement. It also continues to propose that research programs could be funded entirely with federal funds. States strongly support this much needed flexibility.
The Association is grateful for the constancy in highway safety funding that would be afforded through this six-year bill. However, we would prefer the funding levels be reversed for Sections 402 and 405. Section 402 is the heart of state highway safety programs; as such, it should receive the bulk of resources. States rely on Section 402 to address their unique challenges through research-based, data-driven programs, so it is imperative that this program is amply supported.
The GROW AMERICA Act has attempted to address the prescriptive nature of the distracted driving, ignition interlock and graduated driver license incentive grants in Section 405, but the changes do not go far enough to recognize the strong laws already in place in many states. For the past three fiscal years, only one state has qualified for the distracted driving incentive grant. And, no state has qualified for the graduated driver licensing grants since MAP-21 began.
The Association is disheartened that the proposal goes against a data-driven approach to highway safety by earmarking funds for pedestrian and bicycle safety programs. GHSA recognizes the importance of pedestrian and bicyclist safety. In fact, recently, states voluntarily began to include a bicycle performance measure in their annual highway safety plans. However, mandating that states address an issue flies in the face of the data-based approach to highway safety that has been extremely successful.
Finally, while GHSA is concerned about vehicle safety issues, the pilot program for state notification that utilizes behavioral highway safety funds to address motor vehicle recalls is problematic. Only 2 percent of crashes are attributed to vehicle issues, while 94 percent are driver-behavior related.1 Taking money from an already underfunded behavioral safety program to address vehicle safety needs is counterintuitive and not based on data.
We thank the Administration for putting forward this long-term reauthorization proposal that would bring stability to state funding. We look forward to working with both the Administration and Congress to help make our nation’s roadways safer.
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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, enhance program management and promote best practices. 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. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GHSAhq or follow us on Twitter at @GHSAHQ.