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SAFETY ADVOCATES URGE CONGRESS TO GET TOUGH WITH DOT ON AUTO AND HIGHWAY SAFETY ISSUES

 SAFETY ADVOCATES URGE CONGRESS TO GET TOUGH WITH DOT
 ON AUTO AND HIGHWAY SAFETY ISSUES
 WASHINGTON, April 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Inadequate funding could negate many of the key safety provisions adopted by Congress in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), safety advocates told members of the House transportation appropriations subcommittee today.
 "The congressional enactment of ISTEA established an important and long overdue safety agenda for the U.S. Department of Transportation," said Timothy A. Hoyt, safety officer with Nationwide Insurance, who represented Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety at the hearing. "While Congress has firmly set the dates, outlined the requirements and directed specific agency action, we are concerned that without sufficient funding, the safety gains achieved in ISTEA will fall victim to budgetary inertia." His comments came during a hearing on the FY 1993 Transportation Appropriations bill.
 Hoyt, who was accompanied by Advocates' Deputy Executive Director Jacqueline Gillan, outlined four major areas where funding issues could negatively impact safety advances:
 -- Motorcycle Helmet/Safety Belt Use -- Section 153 of ISTEA
 provides incentive grants for states with both laws and
 authorizes $24 million in FY93; however, NHTSA requested only
 $20 million. Advocates urged the subcommittee to fully fund
 the program.
 -- Highway Design Standards -- A little-noticed provision in
 ISTEA seriously weakens federal highway design standards and
 eliminates many federal project oversight and approval
 requirements. Approximately 95 percent of all federally
 assisted roads will not be required to meet federal design and
 safety standards under the new law. Advocates urged the
 subcommittee to postpone any action until a congressionally-
 mandated study is completed by the U.S. DOT.
 -- Auto Safety -- ISTEA reauthorized the National Highway Traffic
 Safety Administration (NHTSA) for the first time in a decade
 and required the agency to move forward on auto safety by
 requiring certain safety devices (i.e., air bags) and by
 studying ways to improve vehicle crashworthiness. The FY93
 NHTSA budget request for its rulemaking program was only
 $705,000, which will likely translate into delayed and
 deferred action in implementing the vehicle safety provisions
 of ISTEA. Advocates urged the subcommittee to provide NHTSA
 with more funds for vehicle safety and consumer rulemaking
 activities to carry out ISTEA.
 -- Biomechanics Research -- Although NHTSA calls biomechanics
 research the cornerstone upon which many of its performance-
 based safety initiatives and regulations are made, for the
 third year in a row it did not request an increase in funding
 for biomechanics research. Advocates pointed out that in the
 last two budget cycles, the subcommittee found the agency's
 budget request lacking in this area and provided increased
 funding. Advocates urged the subcommittee to provide
 $7 million for biomechanics research to meet the rulemaking
 requirements of ISTEA.
 In closing, Hoyt noted: "We urge this subcommittee to increase resources at all levels for highway safety, especially in the rulemaking and research activities of NHTSA. Advocates believes that the safety gains achieved in the 102nd Congress with the enactment of ISTEA should not be delayed because of inadequate resources. We know these programs work. They save lives, prevent injuries, reduce federal, state and local costs and spare families the trauma of a loss or a lifetime of pain."
 -0- 4/29/92
 /CONTACT: Katherine R. Hutt or Jacqueline Gillan of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, 202-408-1711/ CO: Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety ST: District of Columbia IN: AUT TRN SU:


TW -- DC016 -- 4387 04/29/92 12:39 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 29, 1992
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