Democrat Senators Press Safety Initiatives

Emphasis Comes at Infrastructure Law's Two-Year Anniversary
Traffic in Bay Area
Heavy traffic moves on Interstate 80 in Northern California. The NHTSA determined that 42,795 individuals died in 2022 in motor vehicle crashes. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News)

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The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s two-year anniversary is an opportunity to revisit several safety concerns, two senior Democratic senators recently said.

This month, Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Ed Markey of Massachusetts were joined by senior members of their caucus in renewing their push for the U.S. Department of Transportation to adopt or continue to pursue myriad safety policies. Such policies are aimed at improving connectivity across the nation’s commercial and passenger corridors.

“Last year, nearly 43,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes. While this number represents a slight decrease from 2021 — the deadliest year on the road in 16 years — bold action is necessary to address this road safety crisis,” the senators wrote the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Nov. 7.

The senators serve on committees with jurisdiction over transportation policy. They included Sens. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

“There is no doubt our nation is at a critical moment for traffic safety, and NHTSA’s task of implementing the much-needed IIJA safety provisions will determine whether we continue our progress and leave traffic fatalities in the rearview mirror,” the letter also said. “We, therefore, urge NHTSA to continue the work of reversing the frightening trend of motor vehicle fatalities and swiftly implement key safety provisions in the IIJA.”

The senators highlighted for the agency provisions related to recall completion rates, seat back safety standards, automatic vehicle shutoffs, crash avoidance technologies, driver monitoring systems, hood and bumper standards and performance-based standards for vehicle headlamps.

Since its enactment Nov. 15, 2021, the Biden administration has pointed to the bipartisan infrastructure law’s impact on transportation safety. On the law’s two-year anniversary, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced on social media: “With historic funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we’re making America’s roads and vehicles safer for all. To date, 700 communities — representing over half of all Americans — have received funding to improve the streets they walk, bike and drive on.”


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The White House also touted the law’s effect on supply chain connectivity and workforce development improvements. “President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law newly enabled states to invest in workforce development using their highway formula funds, which total nearly $250 billion over five years,” according to Heather Boushey, chief economist for Investing in America Cabinet, on Nov. 15. “More than half of states are already taking advantage of this flexibility, investing $39 million to prepare their workforces for high-quality jobs in construction and other transportation-related occupations.”

Earlier in the month, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg sought to capture the moment, saying, “Our fundamental priorities in transportation are straightforward: to make transportation safer, to use transportation to support economic growth that lifts everyone up, to make sure transportation develops in an equitable fashion, to make sure transportation is part of the solution to climate change and fifth, to make sure that innovation in the field of transportation unfolds in ways that are good for those other four priorities of safety, growth, equity and climate.”

Earlier this year, NHTSA determined that 42,795 individuals died in 2022 in motor vehicle crashes.

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