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Grow America: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Summary of NHTSA Provisions

While the nation experienced a nearly 26 percent decline in motor vehicle fatalities between 2005 and 2011, in 2012 there were still 33,561 fatalities on America’s roadways and over 2.3 million injuries. The GROW AMERICA Act ensures that safety remains our number one priority by supporting and improving the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) programs, that focus on combatting distracted and impaired driving and improving safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. Specifically, the Act:

Combats Impaired and Distracted Driving and Improves Education for New Drivers: Improvements to the National Priority Safety grants program will improve education and standards for new drivers and prevent impaired and distracted driving. The GROW AMERICA Act amends program criteria and includes separate grants to give states additional flexibility and incentives for meeting requirements, enacting and enforcing more rigorous laws, and increased flexibility to spend funds on education and awareness. In addition, the GROW AMERICA Act continues support for administering anti-distracted driving campaigns, such as the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over initiative.

Improves Safety for Bicyclists and Pedestrians: Pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities have increased in recent years; in 2012 alone, over 4,700 pedestrians and 700 bicyclists were killed on our nation’s roads. The GROW AMERICA Act amends existing authorities to address pedestrian and bicycle safety as critical priorities. The Act requires States to spend available funds on bicycle and pedestrian safety if fatalities in these areas meet a specified threshold. The Act also includes provisions for states to address older driver safety and emergency medical services response.

Holds Companies Accountable for Vehicle Defects: The GROW AMERICA Act protects car renters and owners by expanding authority to penalize bad actors for selling or renting faulty equipment. To ensure that motor vehicle companies comply with safety standards, the GROW AMERICA Act increases the limit for civil penalties for violators from $35 million to $300 million. It also amends recall authority to require rental companies and used car dealers to fix vehicles before making them available to the public. The Act also strengthens NHTSA’s authorities to respond quickly to remove hazardous equipment from the market, and to investigate incidents of noncompliance.

Supports Development and Enforcement of Fuel Efficiency Standards: The GROW AMERICA Act supports development of future efficiency standards for cars and trucks–including the next round of standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, which the President has directed DOT and EPA to complete by 2016. The Administration finalized the first-ever fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks for model years 2014-18, which will save vehicle owners and operators an estimated $50 billion in fuel costs and save a projected 530 million barrels of oil, and put in place standards for cars and light duty vehicles through 2025, which are already saving vehicle owners at the gas pump and will roughly double fuel economy by the end of the program. The GROW AMERICA Act also expands authority to enforce compliance with efficiency standards through inspections and, if necessary, investigations.

Supports Important Safety Research and Demonstration Programs: The GROW AMERICA Act supports safety goals through behavioral research and demonstration programs that focus on issues like distraction and combatting impaired driving, as well as on collecting and analyzing crash data. NHTSA research programs also focus on testing alternative fuels, electronics, and emerging technologies, to ensure that they are safe for use.

Updated: Thursday, May 8, 2014