FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 14, 2018
Contact: Eric Naing 202-408-1711, cell: 217-493-8294, firstname.lastname@example.org
Statement of Cathy Chase,
President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety,
On National Police Week
This National Police Week, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) honors law enforcement officers across the country and extends our sincere gratitude for their service. Law enforcement officers risk their lives every day to keep our roads safe for all motorists and road users. We also laud their advocacy efforts to improve state and federal laws that prevent motor vehicle crashes, save lives and reduce injuries. Countless families remain whole today thanks to their tireless commitment to ensuring safety on our streets and highways including promoting and enforcing laws that help curb dangerous driving behavior and unsafe road conditions.
Unfortunately, this week while tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from all over the country are in our Nation’s capital to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, well-funded corporate trucking interests are pushing policy changes which will erode, circumvent and decimate current federal truck size and weight limits by trying to attach riders on the fiscal year (FY) 2019 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill. Truck crash deaths have risen dramatically in recent years, and allowing bigger, heavier trucks on our roads would only exacerbate a major public health and safety problem. Law enforcement is often the first on the scene to respond to these horrific truck crashes that cause needless carnage on our roads. Allowing bigger and heavier trucks on the road will make crashes more likely and more catastrophic. We urge the House Appropriations Committee to reject these dangerous and deadly attempts when they debate the bill this week.
In addition to commercial motor vehicle safety concerns, distracted driving is a serious safety problem on our roadways. In 2016 alone, 3,450 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Crash risk skyrockets as much as four times higher when a driver is using a mobile phone. States need to expand the tools available to law enforcement officers to combat this deadly epidemic including adopting all-driver text messaging restrictions and laws that prohibit novice teen drivers from using cellular devices, except in an emergency. Additionally, as cellphones have become smartphones, and as the range of electronic communication platforms expands to include apps, videos, social media and gaming, laws curbing driver distraction must be updated to keep pace with the technology and the ensuing distraction.
Alcohol-impaired driving continues to cause nearly a third of all traffic deaths in the U.S. and is another serious problem that police officers frequently confront. In fact, one alcohol-impaired driving fatality occurred every 50 minutes on average in 2016. Yet, too many states are lacking lifesaving laws that require ignition interlock devices (IID) for all-offenders, .05 percent blood alcohol content (BAC) limits, child endangerment protections and open container prohibitions. Additionally, as more states continue to consider allowing recreational marijuana use, we have significant concerns about the potential impact on roadway safety. We need to continue to take steps to both empower and protect law enforcement officers on our streets and roads every day.
Moreover, NHTSA determined that speeding was a contributing factor in almost 30 percent of all fatal crashes in 2016. And, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Americans are more likely to be injured in a red light running related event than any other crash. Thankfully, we have effective technological solutions like speed and red light cameras, which have been demonstrated to reduce fatal crashes and augment traditional enforcement efforts while avoiding putting officers in harm’s way to pursue offenders. We urge more states to enact laws that permit the use of these lifesaving technologies.
All motorists and road users owe a world of gratitude to the brave and steadfast efforts of law enforcement who work hard every day to make our roads and highways as safe as possible. Advocates thanks you and looks forward to continuing to work together to reduce the unacceptable motor vehicle death and injury toll.