Report: Heavy Restrictions Keep States From Getting Highway Safety Funds

Saturday, 26 Jul 2014 07:21 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Few states have qualified for millions of dollars in federal highway safety incentive grants because advocacy groups and regulators have attached so many strings to them, a new report says.

"Incentives should encourage states to reach for the next level in improving their highway safety laws, not be so unreasonable that qualification is impossible," Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, told USA Today. "As written now, the incentives have had little-to-no impact at improving highway safety."

Much of that funding, as a result, has gone to other transportation programs, USA Today reports. They were designed to finance programs for graduated licensing, ignition interlocks — and to combat distracted driving. The grants have been available since 2012.

For instance, Connecticut is the only state in the nation that has a law that meets the qualifications for obtaining grants for its distracted-driving program. The Constitution State has received more than $2.3 million.

The grants require that state laws include minimum fines that increase for subsequent offenses and include questions about distracted driving on driver's license exams, USA Today reports.

The Washington-based group, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, helped Congress develop the conditions — but they ended up being too strict, said Cathy Chase, the organization's senior director of governmental affairs said.

Adkins told USA Today that the grants "were a good idea that went wrong. They are so complicated and convoluted that in most cases, it is extremely difficult to understand what a state needs to do to qualify."

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