Archive for the ‘Advocacy’ Category

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON, Jan. 26, 2015) AAA, the American Trucking Associations and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce delivered a joint letter to Congress today in support of increased transportation funding.

Dear Members of the 114th Congress,

AAA, the American Trucking Associations, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce welcome you for the 114th Congress. Our organizations are committed to improving our nation’s infrastructure system and look forward to working with you to fully fund the roads and bridges that are the backbone of American mobility and competitiveness.

Americans are frustrated with our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, including increasingly congested highways and deficient roads and bridges. Thirty-two percent of major roads are in poor or mediocre condition. This neglect costs the average driver $324 each year in additional vehicle repairs and operating costs. Commutes between home and work are longer than ever before, and the average American spends 38 hours each year stuck in traffic. Furthermore, congestion on the Interstate System alone costs freight trucks more than 141 million hours in wasted time, equivalent to 51,000 drivers sitting idle for a working year.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution to address this issue in the near-term: raise the federal fuels user fee, provided the funds are used to ease congestion and improve safety. While the impact of insufficient funding is evident, how we got here is not always clear. With this in mind, our organizations have put together an educational infographic on the Highway Trust Fund to serve as a primer for lawmakers and the general public as the funding of roads and bridges is considered this spring. That infographic can be found here.

There are many challenges that Congress must address this year, but we believe that finding a solution for funding the Highway Trust Fund is at the top of that list. Rather than continuing to resort to short-term funding patches that only delay tough decisions, our organizations support action to address the issue pragmatically, immediately and sustainably. While no one wants to pay more, we urge you to support an increase to the federal fuels user fee, provided the funds are used to ease congestion and improve safety, because it is the most cost efficient and straightforward way to provide a steady revenue stream to the Highway Trust Fund.

The last increase to the federal user fee for gasoline was 1993. Since then, inflation, increased fuel economy, and rising costs associated with labor and construction, have eroded the user fee’s purchasing power. Congress must act to provide a reliable revenue stream to support jobs, address maintenance needs and provide Americans with a safe and efficient transportation system. Congress has patched the Highway Trust Fund five times since 2008, continuing to kick the can further down the road, and now faces yet another looming shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund with current funding set to expire on May 31.

Thank you again for your time and consideration and we look forward to continuing to work together to address the funding needs of our nation’s transportation system.

Sincerely

AAA, American Trucking Associations and U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2015) – AAA CEO Robert Darbelnet has released the following statement in response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address.

“The state of our nation’s transportation infrastructure is deteriorating, and without significant investment it will only worsen. President Obama has outlined numerous legislative priorities tonight – from making community colleges more accessible to national energy production and efficiency initiatives – but a key part of our overall economic success will depend on a reliable network to get people to school and transport new products to factories and stores.

“The President’s proposal to leverage corporate tax reform or private investment structures to support transportation funding would provide a welcome shot in the arm for our nation’s infrastructure, but this will not provide a sustainable fix to the looming funding crisis at hand.

“We have a tremendous opportunity with gas prices hitting multi-year lows to invest a portion of these savings to properly fund our transportation system. The user fee for gasoline – often called the “gas tax” – has not increased in more than two decades; yet long-overdue action to restore funding lost to inflation is finally gaining interest on Capitol Hill.

“AAA continues to advocate for an increase to this user fee as the most effective and efficient way to fund our transportation system, provided the money is used to ease congestion and improve safety.

“We can only hope that the promise of bipartisanship and collaboration prevails so that we can achieve a sustainable and reliable long-term funding solution.”​

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Survey Reveals High Tolerance for Drug-Impaired Drivers

Erin SteppWASHINGTON (December 29, 2014) – With the recent legalization of recreational marijuana use in Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia, safety advocates are increasingly concerned that drugged drivers pose a very serious threat to the safety of American road users.  New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that nearly half of Americans share this concern and report feeling that drug-impaired drivers are a bigger problem today compared to three years ago. With 85 percent of Americans supporting marijuana-impairment laws, the survey reveals that while there’s awareness of this serious issue, Americans are unclear on impairment thresholds, safety implications and legal ramifications.

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“While all states prohibit driving under the influence of drugs, there’s significant variation in the minimum acceptable levels of marijuana or its traces in a driver’s system,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Sixteen states forbid any presence of prohibited drugs, while five others have specific limits for marijuana. With a lack of uniformity, it’s no surprise we found that more than half of American drivers are unaware of the laws that exist in their state.”

The Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index also revealed that, compared to alcohol, American drivers are significantly less concerned about the threat of drug impairment behind the wheel. The survey found that while two-thirds feel that those who drive after drinking alcohol pose a “very serious” threat to their personal safety, just over half feel the same way about drug use.  In fact, one-in-six Americans report that, where they live, most people feel it’s acceptable to drive one hour after using marijuana.

“Federal government research suggests that marijuana can impair driving performance for up to 3 hours,” warned Kissinger.  “Decreased car handling performance, increased reaction times and sleepiness have all been documented driver impairments that result from marijuana use.”

When it comes to prescription drug use and driving, Americans report feeling even less concerned, with just over a quarter reporting feeling the same “very serious” threat to their personal safety.  However, many of these drugs, along with over-the-counter medications, can impair a driver in similar ways as alcohol. Previous studies have found that a single dose of some cold and allergy medications can have the same effect on driving as being above the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration, and certain antidepressants have been shown to increase crash risk by up to 41 percent.

“Just because a doctor prescribes a drug, or you can purchase it over-the-counter doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe to use while driving,” says Jake Nelson, AAA’s Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy.  “Always discuss potential side effects and interactions with your doctor or pharmacist before getting behind the wheel.”

To educate drivers on the impact that prescription and over-the-counter drugs can have on safe driving ability, the AAA Foundation developed RoadwiseRX – a free, interactive tool that allows users to input various medications and check for side effects and interactions that can lead to driver impairment.

Each year, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety surveys Americans ages 16 and older about their driving behaviors and attitudes. The goal of this annual Traffic Safety Culture Index is to foster a social climate in which traffic safety is highly valued and rigorously pursued.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur. Visit www.aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

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.

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Heather HunterStatement from AAA CEO Bob Darbelnet

ORLANDO, Fla., (November 20, 2014) – “AAA supports NHTSA’s action to call for a full national recall of affected Takata airbags. Vehicles are often bought and sold across state lines so it is in the best interest of consumers to expand this recall to all states. Testimony from today’s hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee further underscored that the grave danger from these defective airbags is a national safety priority and should be treated as such. Motorists’ safety is a national issue that is not confined by regional boundaries. Takata’s handling of this investigation and recall is unacceptable and demonstrates their failure to fully understand, address and communicate the scope of the airbag deficiencies as soon as the problem was identified.”

“The tremendous number of vehicle recalls issued to date this year is understandably alarming to motorists and must lead to systematic changes to the way that regulators and manufacturers protect the safety of motorists. AAA fully supports legislative proposals that call for reforms to strengthen the recall process, increase penalties for inaction by manufacturers, and clarify additional NHTSA oversight responsibilities. Accountability, transparency and full and timely disclosure of any potential safety defect is not negotiable when it comes to motorist safety.”

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.

Nancy WhiteStatement from Bob Darbelnet, AAA CEO

(WASHINGTON, October 28, 2014) “A thorough review of NHTSA’s ability to manage and respond to vehicle recalls is warranted and overdue given the repeated breakdowns in the recall process that have been on display this year. These missteps not only erode consumer confidence in the Agency tasked with ensuring public safety but most importantly jeopardize the safety of millions of American motorists.

“In the past seven days, Americans have witnessed a broken safety website, incorrect lists of impacted vehicles and a timeline that again paints NHTSA’s recall process as slow and ineffective.  After several corrections to the list of 7.8 million vehicles impacted by the latest Takata recall, it remains unclear which vehicles are unsafe for motorists to drive and what regions are most at risk. Consumers need to know immediately whether they could be in danger.  If a vehicle impacted by this recall is unsafe to drive, simply disabling the airbag is not an acceptable temporary “fix.” Consumers impacted by this recall should be provided a loaner vehicle that is safe to drive until the necessary repairs are completed.

“As an advocate for motorists, AAA is again calling on NHTSA to ensure the vehicles we drive every day to work, pick up our kids from school, and visit families at the holidays are safe to operate. The challenges facing NHTSA are significant and President Obama must demand immediate action to fix a system that clearly remains broken.”

 

Heather HunterAAA supports calls for higher penalties, increased transparency and more stringent oversight

Washington, D.C., (September 16, 2014) – AAA released the following statement in response to today’s Senate Commerce Committee hearing that focused on the vehicle safety recall process and the committee’s broader oversight of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

“There is plenty of blame to go around with both failures by automakers and missteps by regulators at NHTSA which failed to protect the public as evidence mounted of potential dangers in many GM vehicles,” said AAA Chief Operating Officer Marshall L. Doney. “The time for finger pointing has passed, and now we must focus on ensuring that a problem of this magnitude never again threatens road safety.”

“Congress has for too long failed to fund NHTSA’s investigation department and the agency desperately needs those resources to fulfill its public mission,” continued Doney. “New funding for NHTSA must be tied to necessary reforms that ensure that tax dollars are spent on conducting effective investigations that identify critical safety defects before lives are lost.”

“NHTSA’s fines on automakers must fit the severity of violations that threaten road users, and AAA supports raising the limit on these fines immediately from $35 million to $300 million,” continued Doney. “Efforts by automakers to oppose this increase are disappointing and yet again puts profits before safety.”

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.

Michael GreenStatement by Bob Darbelnet, President and CEO of AAA

(WASHINGTON, July 31, 2014) “AAA is disappointed that the House has allowed politics and an easily fixable drafting error to interfere with a bipartisan proposal that would set the stage for a long-term transportation bill. It is imperative that the Highway Trust Fund remain solvent, but Congress ultimately must work to secure the multi-year funding for transportation that American motorists expect and deserve.

“The Senate bill would have positioned Congress to work toward passage of multi-year, fully funded transportation legislation following the elections in November. The House extension delays the tough decisions until 2015, which puts jobs, the economy and American mobility at risk. AAA looks forward to working with those leaders in Congress who seek to secure a multi-year transportation bill that focuses on results, ensures adequate funding and keeps the safety of our roads and bridges a national priority.”

Michael Green(WASHINGTON, July 30, 2014) AAA’s President and CEO, Bob Darbelnet, today sent the following letter to Congressional leaders urging them to fix the Highway Trust Fund this year:

Dear Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi,

As the nation’s largest organization representing motorists, AAA urges the House to act immediately to take up and pass the bipartisan Senate bill to extend funding for surface transportation programs until December of this year.

Funding for America’s roads and bridges is yet again in imminent danger of running out. It is imperative that you act swiftly to ensure the immediate solvency of the Highway Trust Fund; however congressional focus must remain a multi-year proposal that will meet the long-term needs of drivers. This is accomplished in the Senate bill, which passed with broad bipartisan support.

The best short-term remedy is one that extends funding until December and positions Congress to work toward passage of a long-term, fully funded transportation bill following the elections in November. An extension that delays the tough decisions until 2015 jeopardizes Congress’ ability to reach an agreement on a long-term transportation funding solution and puts jobs, the economy, and American mobility at risk.

For this reason, AAA urges you to take up and pass the bipartisan Senate bill without delay.

Sincerely,

Robert L. Darbelnet

 

Nancy White“AAA commends the Senate for taking a major first step toward making a long-term investment in America’s transportation infrastructure. The passage of the bipartisan amendment, proposed by Senators Boxer, Corker and Carper, sends a strong signal that Congress recognizes the importance of passing a multi-year, sustainable funding solution to fix the nation’s transportation crisis and is willing to put politics aside and work together to enhance American mobility and improve safety.

“The House must now follow suit and act immediately to pass this amended bill, which will prevent the immediate insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund. However they must also commit to reaching a long-term solution to our nation’s transportation funding needs by the December deadline that has been set in this legislation. In the coming months, AAA will continue to advocate for a long-term transportation bill that focuses on results, ensures adequate funding, and keeps the safety of our roads and bridges a national priority.”

 

Michael Green(WASHINGTON, July 24, 2014) AAA’s President and CEO, Bob Darbelnet, today sent the following letter to members of the U.S. Senate urging them to consider the long-term needs of drivers:

As the nation’s largest organization representing motorists, AAA urges you to vote yes on the amendment proposed by Senators Boxer, Corker, and Carper to extend funding for surface transportation programs through December 20, 2014.

Funding for America’s roads and bridges is once again in imminent danger of running out. While it is imperative that you act swiftly to ensure the immediate solvency Highway Trust Fund, the focus must remain on a proposal that will help meet the long-term needs of drivers.

The best short-term patch is one that extends funding through December 20, 2014 and positions Congress to working toward passage of a long-term, fully funded transportation bill during the lame duck session following the elections in November. An extension that delays the tough decisions until 2015 jeopardizes Congress’ ability to reach an agreement on a long-term transportation funding solution and puts jobs, the economy, and American mobility at risk.

For this reason, AAA urges you to vote yes on the amendment proposed by Senators Boxer, Corker, and Carper.

Sincerely,

Robert L. Darbelnet

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