Tuesdays with Tom: Udall Discusses Transportation Reauthorization Ahead of Senate Debate
Transportation Funding Bill Includes ROADS Safe Provision to Fight Drunk Driving and Three Provisions to Protect Rural Roads
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) today discussed the transportation reauthorization legislation currently before the Senate. The bill includes four Udall provisions including the Research of Alcohol Detection Systems for Stopping Alcohol-related Fatalities Everywhere (ROADS SAFE) act, which would use technology to reduce the number of drunk driving fatalities.
The ROADS SAFE Act would support the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) program to explore the feasibility, potential benefits and public policy challenges associated with using in-vehicle technology to prevent drunk driving.
"New Mexico has become a leader in reducing the number of drunk driving deaths on our roads. I am proud to continue this effort nationally with the ROADS SAFE Act, investing in new technology to prevent drunk drivers from getting onto our communities' roads in the first place," Udall said.
Udall held a Senate field hearing on the bill in August, 2011 that examined the impact of this legislation. In New Mexico alone, drunk driving caused 111 deaths in 2010. With this technology, an estimated 9,000 road traffic deaths could be prevented every year.
In addition to ROADS SAFE, Udall reported that three provisions to protect rural roads are also included in the legislation.
The Rural Road Safety amendment will ensure that crashes on rural roads are taken into account when prioritizing safety projects. In general, crashes occur more often in urban areas, but are more deadly on rural roads, which are plentiful in New Mexico. This amendment will help states to properly identify hot spots in both rural and urban locations. In rural towns, often the only road eligible for federal funding is the main street, which can become congested due to traffic. Udall's Alternative Corridor Improvement amendment will allow communities of less than 200,000 to make improvements to otherwise non-federally supported roads, improving traffic congestion on the main street and spurring local economic development.
The final amendment helps border counties like Hidalgo, Luna and Doña Ana by providing access to federal funding to improve county roads used for federal purposes within 10 miles of the border. With increased border patrol activity, there has been a shortfall of funds for maintenance. This funding would help close that gap.