Governors Highway Safety Association Praises Lifesaving Highway Bill
WASHINGTON -- The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) congratulates Congress for enacting the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act -- A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) after a nearly three-year effort.
Jim Champagne, chairman of GHSA, praised the bill and said, “GHSA members are pleased that this long reauthorization effort has concluded and that so many new resources are provided for State Highway Safety Offices. The additional funding will help states maintain the progress they have already made on highway safety and help them make new inroads against existing and emerging highway safety problems.”
Many of the Association’s recommendations for federal behavioral highway safety grant programs are captured in the final bill. The Association is especially pleased with:
-- The 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 and is the foundation for all state behavioral highway safety efforts.
-- The excellent compromise on the occupant protection incentive grant program. SAFETEA-LU would provide a large incentive for states to enact a primary safety belt law or to attain an 85 percent 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 some much-needed 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 high level of impaired driving incentive grant funding should provide a boost to state efforts to address impaired driving in a comprehensive manner.
-- The new highway safety information system improvement grant program. 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. The plan must be developed in consultation with State Highway Safety Offices and many other state, regional and local agencies. This requirement recognizes that achievement of safety goals will be extremely difficult unless all the relevant state, regional and local agencies work together to identify statewide safety goals and then implement coordinated programs to reach those goals.
Champagne thanked the Conference Committee, especially Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska) and the majority and minority leadership of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Senate Commerce Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. He also thanked the Committee staffs who patiently and willingly listened to the concerns of GHSA members and drafted language that, to a large extent, addressed those concerns in a manner respectful of state needs.
For GHSA’s related position on TEA-21, visit http://www.ghsa.org/html/publications/tea-21.html
The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is the nonprofit association representing the highway safety agencies of states, territories, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Indian Nation. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. For more information, contact GHSA at 202-789-0942 or visit http://www.ghsa.org.
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