Despite a nationwide rise in traffic fatalities, almost half of U.S. states have transferred federal road safety dollars to other projects.
According to an article by Daniel C. Vock in Route Fifty, “nearly half of state transportation departments have diverted money from Washington specifically designated to making highways safer,” prompting concerns among some members of Congress. “U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat who chairs the House committee on transportation and infrastructure, expressed his frustration over the common practice at a recent hearing. DeFazio said it was ‘very disturbing’ that, in the five years leading up to September 2021, 23 states transferred money out of the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program for other uses.” It should be noted that states are legally allowed to transfer up to half of the funding to other transportation-related uses.
“At a time when traffic fatalities remain at unacceptable levels and have increased substantially in every state over the last two years, we believe that the authorized amounts for HSIP should be the absolute minimum dedicated to safety improvements and transfers out should not be acceptable,” said Peter True, a spokesperson for the Democrats on the committee. Among the 23 states that moved safety funding to other uses are Wisconsin (48 percent), New Jersey (44.4 percent), and Maryland (41.3 percent).
Vock notes that “Several states added money to their program instead. In fact, both South Dakota and California more than doubled their allocation. Other states that diverted more money to the program were North Dakota, Georgia, Arkansas, Alaska, Montana, Washington and Virginia.”
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