The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has updated its Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements for 2021-22.
The list serves as the agency’s primary advocacy tool to help save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce property damage resulting from transportation accidents. The NTSB is primarily an accident investigation agency and has no regulatory authority of its own, however.
With regard to highway transportation, the top safety objectives are:
- Implement a Comprehensive Strategy to Eliminate Speeding-Related Crashes
- Protect Vulnerable Road Users through a Safe System Approach
- Prevent Alcohol- and Other Drug-Impaired Driving
- Require Collision-Avoidance and Connected-Vehicle Technologies on all Vehicles
- Eliminate Distracted Driving.
As to speeding, the NTSB asserts that speeding is typically defined as exceeding a speed limit, but it can also mean driving at the speed limit but too fast for road conditions. Between 2009 and 2018, speeding-related crashes resulted in nearly 100,000 fatalities, close to one-third of all traffic fatalities in the U.S.
Speeding can result in loss of vehicle control, which increases both the likelihood of a crash and the severity of injuries sustained. Higher vehicle speeds lead to larger changes in velocity, which, in turn, lead to higher injury severity.
The NTSB argues that speed-limiters on large trucks, automated enforcement, expert speed analysis tools, and education campaigns are underused in our communities. The agency wants these to be implemented to address this safety problem.
FEDERAL CONGRESSIONAL UPDATE
Congress returned to Washington and will begin formal negotiations over the president’s ambitious $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan. The administration faces an uphill climb to gain elusive bipartisan support for its proposal, however. Despite overtures to Republicans, most in the GOP want a smaller package confined to traditional infrastructures such as roads and bridges. Both Republicans and moderate Democrats, including Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, have expressed serious reservations about proposed tax increases. Many liberal Democrats believe the bill should be bigger and more aggressive on climate change. Despite these concerns, Speaker Nancy Pelosi told committee chairs she wants a bill on the House floor before the August recess.
The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee held a hearing on alternatives to motor fuel excise taxes. The House Appropriations Subcommittee for Transportation heard testimony from Secretary Pete Buttigieg on the administration’s infrastructure plan. The “Costs of Inaction on Climate Change” was presented to the Senate Budget Committee and House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.
Biden Releases State ‘Fact Sheets’ Detailing Infrastructure Needs
The White House has released state-by-state breakdowns that purport to show a “dire need” for federal investments in transportation, energy, and building infrastructure. The administration hopes this will bolster its efforts to convince voters and key members of Congress on the benefits of its infrastructure plan in their states. The fact sheets highlight the president’s call for improved energy efficiency in low-income homes, expanded tax credits for building retrofits, and a new Clean Energy & Sustainability Accelerator to finance building improvements. Click here for the official state infrastructure “fact sheets.”
White House Outlines Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Priorities
President Biden outlined his budget and spending priorities for the fiscal year 2022 on Friday. The budget proposes a massive $14 billion boost to climate change-related programs across nearly all federal agencies (summarized by Reuters online here). Biden is proposing $1.7 billion to help retrofit homes, schools, and government buildings. He also called on Congress to reauthorize federal highway agencies, regulations, and programs. The current surface transportation law, known as the FAST Act, expires on September 30, 2021. Additional details on the president’s annual budget proposal are expected in the coming weeks.