Leading Highway Safety Groups Call on Congress to Fund Highway Safety Grants
Proposed Continuing Resolution would deny critical highway safety funds to states.
J.T. Griffin, MADD
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) today called on the House and Senate to support the nation's priority highway safety grant program when it considers legislation to continue funding the federal government known as a Continuing Resolution (CR). Failure to do so, the organizations said, will result in increased highway deaths and injuries.
GHSA and MADD supported consolidating multiple safety grant programs into one new program, known as Section 405, as part of the new surface transportation legislation, MAP-21, enacted earlier this year. The goal was to streamline the federal grant process to save time and money. The new section 405 provides resources for drunk and distracted driving prevention, increased occupant protection, motorcycle safety, teen driving safety and data collection.
Under the typical rules for a CR, new programs, such as those authorized under MAP-21, cannot be funded. As a result, all but $25 million of the Section 405 program cannot be appropriated. A "clean" CR without a small change could stop critical funding from reaching states because the CR is out of synch with MAP-21.
States would have to rely on their carryover funding from previous fiscal years at a time when they are being pressured to spend down those carryover funds. Small states will be particularly hard hit but big states like Texas and California will not be immune from this terrible situation. States that have been good stewards of their federal funding and spent down their carryover funding will, in effect, be penalized and could likely fall short of funding before the sixth-month period expires.
"Unless the CR takes into account the revised priority highway safety grant program structure authorized under MAP-21, as much as $120 million in essential traffic safety grant funds could be denied to the states for six months," the two organizations said. "The result would be devastating for highway safety, particularly at a time when preliminary government statistics show that highway fatalities are starting to increase after years of declines".
"One specific result of inaction," GHSA and MADD added, "Is an immediate dramatic reduction in efforts to prevent drunk driving in some states. We are not asking for a funding increase, merely recognition of the new program structure already approved by Congress so that critical life-saving programs can be implemented in the states."
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About the Governors Highway Safety Association
About Mothers Against Drunk Driving