AAA Statement: Feds Need to Boost Highway Safety Effort
AAA Calls for Increased Federal Role in Highway Safety ORLANDO - U.S. Newswire--American Automobile Association (AAA) President Robert L. Darbelnet today urged Congress to make structural changes in the federal transportation program to support highway safety improvements, including safety data collection and analysis. "It's time to end the charade of talking safety without funding safety," Darbelnet told the annual meeting of the National Asphalt Pavement Association. Under the current Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), about 10 percent of the program's funds are spent on "enhancements," such as landscaping and rehabilitation of old railroad stations and other historic buildings. "Why not redefine the enhancement provision to include safety improvements and information gathering into the causes of more than 42, 000 highway deaths per year?" said Darbelnet. "After reaching a 30-year low in 1992, highway deaths went up in '93, up in '94 and again in '95. As an organization with nearly 40 million member motorists, we are concerned with this trend," he said. Last year AAA launched a national campaign, "Crisis Ahead: America's Aging Highways and Airways," to draw attention to the deteriorating state of the U.S. transportation system. The association urged that highway improvements and modernization be given higher national priority. In considering reauthorization of ISTEA, AAA believes Congress should also give higher priority to those projects that enhance public safety. "If a person were rushed into an emergency room with arterial bleeding and a broken arm, wouldn't the medical personnel treat the life-threatening problem first?" asked Darbelnet. "Similarly, AAA supports transportation enhancements -- but not until our infrastructure vital signs are stabilized. We do not have the luxury of spending gasoline tax dollars on projects that ignore motorists' safety," said Darbelnet. ISTEA was enacted in 1991 and expires this year. It is 100 percent funded by highway user fees, including gasoline taxes. ------ AAA is a not-for-profit federation of 102 motor clubs with more than 1,000 offices providing more than 39 million members in the United States and Canada with travel, insurance, financial and auto-related services.