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With possible legislative action in Congress this summer on a multi-year surface transportation authorization bill this summer, two former U.S. Department of Transportation officials are urging support for the Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection (STANDUP) Act, H.R. 1515 and S. 538.
Committees in the House and Senate are drafting their versions of multi-year transportation legislation authorizing funding for surface transportation programs. Highway and auto safety issues are included as titles in the omnibus bill.
Elizabeth H. Dole and Norman Y. Mineta, U. S. Secretaries of Transportation (1983-1987 and 2001-2006, respectively), sent letters of support for the STANDUP Act last week to Congressional leaders.
In the letters, Dole and Mineta pointed out that motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of teens in the United States. Every year, more than 5,000 people die and thousands more are injured in teen-related crashes.
The two former DOT Secretaries emphasized that the bi-partisan STANDUP Act is based on years of extensive peer-reviewed research and recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and others on the successful and cost-effective programs called Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws. GDL laws reduce teen driving crashes, save lives and supervise inexperienced teen drivers while they are learning driving rules and responsibilities.
While strong state GDL laws have been proven to reduce the crash risk of new teen drivers, there is a gap in many states’ laws that puts teens at serious risk. The Secretaries said that Congress has shown leadership in the past and passed federal legislation to accelerate state action whenever there was an urgent need to protect motorists in every state and there was a proven public health solution. Dole and Mineta cite the fact that every state has a 21 Minimum Drinking Age, a 0.08 percent Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) law, a zero tolerance BAC law for underage drinking and driving, and all states are subject to a uniform licensing system for commercial drivers.
The STANDUP Act, which establishes minimum requirements for state GDL laws, is supported by more than 150 national state and local organizations, including parents, pediatricians, emergency doctors and nurses, MADD, law enforcement, consumer, health and safety groups, and the insurance and auto industries.