On July 6, 2012, President Obama signed into law the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, which is a two-year reauthorization of surface transportation programs. It more commonly is referred to as MAP-21. This bill was the first multi-year transportation authorization enacted since 2005, and it will provide more than $105 billion to fund surface transportation programs in 2013 and 2014. Funds from the previous bill ended in 2009 when the bill expired, but had been temporarily extended nine times. The passage of MAP-21 reaffirms the government’s dedication to keeping our country’s roadways safer. It includes various incentives for states that strengthen existing Graduated Driver Licensing programs to meet federal requirements and incentives for states that pass distracted driving legislation.
To help explain MAP-21 and its incentives, the National Safety Council, the National Organizations for Youth Safety, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety hosted the webinar, “Teen Traffic Safety and the Highway Bill: Overview, Updates and Next Steps” on Nov. 27. The webinar was archived and can be viewed here.
Here are some highlights of MAP-21:
- A state’s highway safety plan may use some of its transportation funding to implement statewide teen traffic safety programs, with an emphasis on peer-to-peer education. This is the first time teen traffic safety has been specifically mentioned in a transportation bill and highlights the importance of peer-to-peer programs.
- Although states are allowed to spend money on teen traffic safety, they are not required to do so. Advocates will need to work within their states to push for money to be spent in this area.
- Each state that meets federally determined GDL grant requirements will be awarded $13 million for the 2013 fiscal year
- The distracted driving incentive grant is a $22.5 million program. States will receive $11.9 million if they pass a total cell phone ban for drivers under 18 anda texting ban for all drivers. In order to receive the full $11.9 million, states also must:
- Set minimum and escalating fines for drivers who violate the ban
- Include questions about distracted driving in the written examination drivers must take in order to receive their licenses
- Apply for 2013 grants by Feb. 28, 2013, and for 2014 grants by July 1, 2013
- States that passed texting bans for all drivers prior to July 6 will receive $5.6 million
- States will receive $5 million for a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) public education campaign on distracted driving issues
- The GDL incentive program mandates a two-stage licensing process:
- The process includes a learner’s permit stage and an intermediate, restricted licensing stage
- Restrictions apply until the driver is 17 years old
- The learner’s permit stage must last at least 6 months and include a ban on all use of cellular devices
- The intermediate stage would start immediately after the learner’s permit stage, though teens must be at least 16, and must last for at least 6 months. During this time, teens would not be allowed to drive with more than one passenger under the age of 21. Family members would be an exception.
- The intermediate licensing stage also would include a ban on all use of cellular devices and nighttime driving restrictions, the specifics of which will be determined at a later date.
If your state doesn’t meet the requirements of MAP-21, write to your state lawmakers expressing support and asking them to strengthen your state’s existing GDL programs. MAP-21 is life-saving legislation. States must take advantage of these incentives, which will help fund programs necessary for the safety of all motorists on our nation’s roadways.