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Publication Number:      Date:  Spring 1996
Issue No: Vol. 59 No. 4
Date: Spring 1996


The Secretary's Highway Safety Action Plan

by Frederick G. Wright Jr.

Motorcycle helmets provide protection.During the debate on the National Highway System (NHS) Designation Act of 1995, a great deal of attention was focused on highway safety issues in the bill and the evolving federal role in highway safety.

In a fundamental shift of authority from the federal government to the states, Congress granted states the right to virtually set their own highway safety laws.

The most controversial aspects of the act were the repeal of the national maximum speed limit law, the repeal of the law encouraging states to enact motorcycle helmet use laws, and the potential exemption of large numbers of small- to medium-sized trucks and their drivers from critical safety regulations governing driver qualifications and truck maintenance.

While the debate on the NHS Designation Act was under way, the Department of Transportation (DOT) formulated the Secretary's Highway Safety Action Plan to address concerns associated with the highway safety issues embodied in the legislation. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have worked closely on the development and implementation of this plan, which became effective upon the signing of the NHS Designation Act by the president on Nov. 28, 1995.

The Secretary's Highway Safety Action Plan is a series of actions, some ongoing and some planned for the future, that address the safety issues of NHS and the emerging state responsibilities in the federal-state partnership in highway safety.

The primary objectives of the action plan are to:

The 10 major elements of the action plan are:

Safer work zones on highways.

Much of the action plan is a continuation of activities that have already been identified, through strategic planning in FHWA and NHTSA, as high-priority areas. Some of the continuing activities include:

For more information about the Secretary's Highway Safety Action Plan, contact FHWA's Office of Highway Safety at (202) 366-1153 or see the secretary's statement released on Nov. 28, 1995, upon the president's signing of the National Highway System Designation Act. The secretary's statement is on page 32 of the Winter 1996 issue of Public Roads.

Frederick G. (Bud) Wright Jr. is the director of FHWA's Office of Highway Safety.




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