AAA’s State Advocacy Efforts to Focus on Transportation Funding, Safety and Connected Cars
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 25, 2014) – AAA will prioritize important state advocacy issues this year including transportation funding, distracted driving, teen driver safety, impaired driving and connected cars. These priorities will help make driving safer, improve mobility and protect motorists’ rights.
“This is an important year because many states lack the money needed to build and maintain the roads that millions of us use every day,” said Jennifer Ryan, AAA director of state relations. “The federal government has failed to adequately address this issue, and many state legislatures must find new ways to pay for improvements. Every driver wants improved safety and reduced traffic congestion, and AAA will do everything it can to help states achieve these goals.”
AAA’s state advocacy priorities in 2014 include:
- Transportation funding – Many states are looking to address transportation funding needs due to federal inaction. Congress has not updated the 18.4 cents per gallon gas tax that funds the Highway Trust Fund in more than 20 years, which means federal transportation funding per mile has been significantly eroded due to inflation and increased fuel efficiency of vehicles. Last year, six states including Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming, passed legislation to adjust their statewide gas taxes to help pay for roads and bridges. No state passed a law increasing the gas tax in the three years prior to 2013. As many as 28 additional states may debate funding options this year. AAA will provide expertise as policymakers examine ways to pay for critical transportation projects and safety improvements.
- Distracted driving – AAA will continue to work with state legislatures to reduce distracted driving. AAA launched a national legislative campaign in 2009 to ban texting while driving in all 50 states, and only eight states remain without a law, including Arizona, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas. A texting ban bill in New Mexico is awaiting action by the governor. Distracted driving remains a serious safety concern and is responsible for about 3,000 fatalities and 420,000 injuries per year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Taking your eyes off the road for more than two seconds, such as when texting, can double your risk of being in a crash.
- Teen driver safety –Car crashes end more teen lives than cancer, homicide and suicide combined. To help improve teen safety, AAA is urging all states to adopt and enforce a comprehensive three-stage graduated driver licensing (GDL) system for teen drivers. While all states have some form of a GDL law, there is room for improvement. Only seven states (Delaware, Indiana, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma and West Virginia) currently have GDL systems that meet AAA’s guidelines for nighttime limits, passenger limits and practice requirements. Safety experts credit GDL laws for much of the 57 percent decline in traffic fatalities for 16- and 17-year-old drivers between 1995 and 2010.
- Impaired driving – More than 10,000 people die in alcohol-impaired driving crashes per year, which accounts for approximately one-third of the total motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the United States.More needs to be done to reduce crashes involving alcohol. Research has identified the life-saving benefit of ignition interlocks, which are more effective than other methods at reducing repeat offenses among convicted drunk drivers. Only 18 states and four California counties mandate or highly incentivize ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers, and AAA is urging the 32 remaining states to improve safety by requiring ignition interlocks for all offenders.
- Connected cars – New cars are increasingly equipped with wireless connectivity, enabling them to transmit data outside the vehicle to improve safety and convenience for drivers. These technologies will transform the driving experience, yet also will allow companies to collect large amounts of potentially sensitive personal data. AAA is working to educate state policymakers on the potential ramifications for drivers by promoting consumer rights for car data that ensure transparency, choice and security.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.