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Amendments to Highway Safety Program Guidelines


American Government

Amendments to Highway Safety Program Guidelines

Jeff Michael
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
23 August 2016


[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 163 (Tuesday, August 23, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 57646-57649]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-20165]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2016-0084]


Amendments to Highway Safety Program Guidelines

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 
Department of Transportation.

ACTION: Request for comments, highway safety program guidelines.

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SUMMARY: Section 402 of title 23 of the United States Code requires the 
Secretary of Transportation to promulgate uniform guidelines for State 
highway safety programs. The National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration (NHTSA) is seeking comments on one (1) new guideline 
that reflects program methodologies and approaches that have proven to 
be successful and are based on sound science and program 
administration. The new guideline is No. 9 Distracted and Drowsy 
Driving. NHTSA believes the new guideline will provide more accurate, 
current and effective guidance to the States regarding distracted and 
drowsy driving. The guideline will be made publicly available on the 
NHTSA Web site.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before September 22, 2016.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments to the docket number identified in 
the heading of this document by any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting 
comments.
     Mail: Docket Management Facility, M-30, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, West Building, Ground Floor, Rm. W12-140, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.
     Hand Delivery or Courier: West Building Ground Floor, Room 
W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern 
Time, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
     Fax: (202) 493-2251.
    Instructions: For detailed instructions on submitting comments and 
additional information on the rulemaking process, see the Public 
Participation heading of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this 
document. Note that all comments received will be posted without change 
to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information 
provided.
    Privacy Act: Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all 
comments received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual 
submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf 
of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review DOT's 
complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register at 65 FR 19477 
FR 19477, April 11, 2000, or you may visit http://www.regulations.gov.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov or the street 
address listed above. Follow the online instructions for accessing the 
dockets.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Carole Guzzetta (202) 366-3665, 
Office of Impaired Driving and Occupant Protection, NHTSA, U.S. 
Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, 
DC 20590. Email: carole.guzzetta@dot.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Background

    Section 402 of title 23 of the United States Code requires the 
Secretary of

[[Page 57647]]

Transportation to promulgate uniform guidelines for State highway 
safety programs. As the highway safety environment changes, it is 
necessary for NHTSA to update the guidelines to provide current 
information on effective program content for States to use in 
developing and assessing their traffic safety programs. These 
guidelines reflect the best available science and the real-world 
experience of NHTSA and the States in developing and managing traffic 
safety program content. NHTSA will update the guidelines periodically 
to address new issues and to emphasize program methodologies and 
approaches that have proven to be effective in these program areas.
    The guidelines offer direction to States in formulating their 
highway safety plans for highway safety efforts that are supported with 
section 402 grant funds, as well as safety activities funded from other 
sources. The guidelines provide a framework for developing a balanced 
highway safety program and serve as benchmarks by which States can 
assess the effectiveness of their own programs. NHTSA encourages States 
to use these guidelines and build upon them to optimize the 
effectiveness of highway safety programs conducted at the State and 
local levels.
    The guidelines emphasize areas of nationwide concern and highlight 
effective countermeasures. As each guideline is updated or created, it 
will include the date of its revision or development.
    NHTSA has developed a new guideline on distracted and drowsy 
driving, No. 9, to address these growing problems. This new guideline 
will help States develop plans to address distracted and drowsy 
driving. In 2014, ten percent of fatal crashes, 18 percent of injury 
crashes, and 16 percent of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic 
crashes were reported as distraction-affected crashes. These 
proportions have remained stable over the past five years of reported 
data. In 2014, there were 3,179 people killed and an estimated 
additional 431,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes involving 
distraction-affected drivers. Ten percent of all drivers 15 to 19 years 
old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time 
of the crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers 
killed in the age range who were distracted at the time of the crashes. 
Lastly, in 2014, there were 520 non-occupants, such as pedestrians and 
bicyclists, killed in distraction-affected crashes.\1\ The limitations 
of these data are described in an April 2016 Traffic Safety Facts 
Research Note (DOT HS 812 260).\2\
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    \1\ National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2016, April). 
Distracted Driving 2014. (Traffic Safety Facts Research Note, DOT HS 
812 260). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration. Available at http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812260.pdf.
    \2\ National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2016, April). 
Distracted Driving 2014. (Traffic Safety Facts Research Note, DOT HS 
812 260). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration. Available at http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812260.pdf.
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    Current estimates range from 2 percent to 20 percent of annual 
traffic deaths attributable to driver drowsiness. According to NHTSA, 
annually on average from 2009 to 2013, there were over 72,000 police-
reported crashes involving drowsy drivers, injuring more than an 
estimated 41,000 people, and killing more than 800.\3\ By using a 
multiple imputation methodology, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety 
estimated that 7 percent of all crashes and 16.5 percent of fatal 
crashes involved a drowsy driver.\4\ This estimate suggests that more 
than 5,000 people died in drowsy-driving-related motor vehicle crashes 
across the United States last year. Research conducted in 2012 by the 
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety showed drivers ages 16-24 were the 
most likely to report having fallen asleep while driving within the 
past year.\5\ Finally, the AAA Foundation's 2015 Traffic Safety Index 
reported that nearly all drivers (97.0%) view drowsy driving as a 
serious threat to their safety and a completely unacceptable behavior; 
however, nearly 1 in 3 (31.5%) admitted to driving when they were so 
tired that they had a hard time keeping their eyes open at some point 
in the past month.\6\
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    \3\ National Center for Statistics and Analysis. National 
Highway Traffic Safety Administration Fatality Analysis Reporting 
System (FARS) and National Automotive Sampling System (NASS) General 
Estimates System (GES).
    \4\ Tefft, B.C. (2012). Prevalence of motor vehicle crashes 
involving drowsy drivers, United States, 1999-2008. Accident 
Analysis & Prevention, 45(1): 180-186.
    \5\ 2012 Traffic Safety Culture Index (2013, January). 
Washington, DC: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Available at 
www.aaafoundation.org/sites/default/files/2012TrafficSafetyCultureIndex.pdf.
    \6\ 2015 Traffic Safety Culture Index (2016, February). 
Washington, DC: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Available at 
www.aaafoundation.org/sites/default/files/2015_TSCI.pdf.
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    It is important that States begin to address the problems of 
distracted and drowsy driving. This guideline is designed to help 
policymakers with decisions about how best to address these growing 
issues.
    All the highway safety guidelines are on the NHTSA Web site, in the 
Highway Safety Grant Management Manual, and on the Traffic Safety page 
at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/nhtsa/whatsup/tea21/tea21programs/.

II. Public Participation

How do I prepare and submit written comments?

    Your comments must be written and in English. To ensure that your 
comments are correctly filed in the Docket, please include the docket 
number of this document in your comments.
    Your primary comments cannot exceed 15 pages (49 CFR 553.21). We 
established this limit to encourage you to write your primary comments 
in a concise fashion. However, you may attach necessary additional 
documents to your primary comments. There is no limit on the length of 
the attachments. Please submit your comments to the Docket by any of 
the methods outlined under ADDRESSES.

How can I be sure that my comments were received?

    If you submit your comments by mail and wish the Docket Management 
to notify you upon its receipt of your comments, enclose a self-
addressed, stamped postcard in the envelope containing your comments. 
Upon receiving your comments, the Docket Management will return the 
postcard by mail.

How do I submit confidential business information?

    If you wish to submit any information under a claim of 
confidentiality, you should submit three copies of your complete 
submission, including the information you claim to be confidential 
business information, to the Chief Counsel, NHTSA, at the address given 
above under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. In addition, you should 
submit two copies, from which you have deleted the claimed confidential 
business information, to Docket Management at the address given above 
under ADDRESSES. When you send a comment containing information claimed 
to be confidential business information, you should include a cover 
letter setting forth the information specified in our confidential 
business information regulation (49 CFR part 512).

Will the agency consider late comments?

    We will consider all comments that Docket Management receives 
before the close of business on the comment

[[Page 57648]]

closing date indicated above under DATES. To the extent possible, we 
will also consider comments that Docket Management receives after that 
date. If Docket Management receives a comment too late for us to 
consider in developing a final guideline (assuming that one is issued), 
we will consider that comment as an informal suggestion for future 
guideline action.

How can I read the comments submitted by other people?

    You may read the comments received by Docket Management at the 
Docket Management Facility by going to the street address given above 
under ADDRESSES. The Docket Management Facility is open between 9 a.m. 
and 5 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, except Federal 
holidays. You may also read the materials placed in the docket for this 
document (e.g., the comments submitted in response to this document by 
other interested persons) at any time by going to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for accessing the 
dockets.
    Please note that even after the comment closing date, we will 
continue to file relevant information in the Docket as it becomes 
available. Further, some people may submit late comments. Accordingly, 
we recommend that you periodically check the Docket for new material.
    In consideration of the foregoing, NHTSA proposes new Guideline 9, 
to read as follows.

Highway Safety Program Guideline No. 9

Distracted and Drowsy Driving

    Each State, in cooperation with its political subdivisions and 
tribal governments, and other parties as appropriate, should develop 
and implement a comprehensive highway safety program, reflective of 
State demographics, to achieve a significant reduction in traffic 
crashes, fatalities and injuries on public roads. This highway safety 
program should include a distracted and drowsy driving component that 
promotes safe driving practices and educates drivers as to the serious 
consequences of driving distracted or drowsy. This guideline describes 
the components that a State program should include and the criteria 
that the program components should meet. Given the multidisciplinary 
nature of the highway safety problem, implementation of a comprehensive 
distracted and drowsy driving program requires coordination among 
several agencies and organizations.
    Distracted and drowsy driving have many issues in common: Both are 
difficult to measure and observe; it is challenging to establish data 
collection to provide actual numbers of fatalities and injuries. 
Moreover, enforcement of these unsafe driving behaviors is challenging 
for law enforcement, further contributing to the difficulty in 
assessing the magnitude of the problem. Additionally, both behaviors 
result from lifestyle choices, which take them beyond driving and 
transportation issues.
I. Program Management
    Each State should conduct data analysis to identify the nature and 
extent of its distracted and drowsy driving problems. Each State should 
have centralized program planning, implementation and coordination to 
establish realistic goals and objectives for the State's program, and 
to implement projects to reach these goals. A State distracted and 
drowsy driving program should:
     Conduct regular problem identification and evaluation 
activities to determine the scope of the distracted and drowsy driving 
problems in the State and guide the development of countermeasures;
     Establish performance targets to guide progress in 
reducing distracted and drowsy driving problems;
     Prioritize key populations for educational efforts to 
prevent the causes of distracted and drowsy driving crashes;
     Identify key messages that need to be conveyed to various 
populations to prevent distracted and drowsy driving;
     Provide leadership, training and technical assistance to 
other agencies and local programs and projects addressing these issues;
     Identify stakeholders/partners to help the program reach 
established goals and objectives; and
     Encourage participation in designated distracted and 
drowsy driving prevention campaigns, such as the annual Distracted 
Driving month activities.
II. Multidisciplinary Involvement
    Distracted and drowsy driving cut across many disciplines. For 
example, being fatigued affects health, overall performance and mood. 
It can be the result of lifestyle choices, a physical condition or 
medication. Distraction goes beyond driving, as many individuals are 
engaging in distracted walking and biking as well. Therefore, program 
efforts should align as both a public health and a transportation 
issue. Following are recommended groups that should be involved in 
efforts to reduce distracted and drowsy driving:
     Public Health and medical professionals;
     Driver education and licensing;
     Non-profit organizations;
     Community safety organizations;
     Businesses and fleet employers;
     Law enforcement and public safety (including EMS and 
Firefighters);
     State agencies, as appropriate;
     Media and communications (including social media) outlets;
     Academic/research organizations; and
     Engineering and technology partners.
III. Legislation, Regulation and Policy
    Each State should enforce all traffic laws and regulations, 
including any with a focus on distracted and drowsy driving. States 
should work with other State agencies and private sector partners to 
establish policies directed at
     Prohibiting the use of wireless/electronic communication 
devices while driving on work-related business, whether in company or 
personal vehicles; and
     preventing drowsy driving while on work-related business, 
whether in company or personal vehicles. States should work with 
relevant employers to provide strategies to assist with scheduling 
shift changes that provide for improved sleep.
    With respect to distracted driving, each State should enact and 
enforce laws prohibiting the use of wireless/electronic communications 
devices while driving. At a minimum, the law should:
     Prohibit a driver from using (e.g., talking, dialing, 
browsing, texting \7\) a wireless/electronic communications device 
while driving;
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    \7\ ``Texting'' is defined as reading from or manually entering 
data into a personal wireless communications device, including doing 
so for the purpose of SMS texting, emailing, instant messaging, or 
engaging in any other form of electronic data retrieval or 
electronic data communication. (Federal Register/Vol. 81, No. 99/
Monday, May 23, 2016/Rules and Regulations, p. 32590)
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     Make the violation a primary offense;
     Establish a minimum fine for a violation of the law; and
     Prohibit a driver from texting through a wireless/
electronic communications device while stopped in an active traffic 
lane.
    With respect to drowsy driving, in the absence of specific 
legislation, States may be able to use existing statutes addressing 
violations such as reckless driving, lane changes, and weaving to

[[Page 57649]]

identify drowsy drivers and cite, as appropriate. States should enact 
and enforce laws prohibiting drowsy driving.
IV. Law Enforcement
    Each State should ensure that State and community distracted and 
drowsy driving programs include a law enforcement component. States 
should provide guidance and support to:
     Develop protocols and training for law enforcement to 
identify the signs associated with distracted and drowsy driving and 
how the established laws in the State can and should be enforced;
     Develop protocols and training for law enforcement in 
recognizing the involvement of distraction and drowsiness in motor 
vehicle crashes;
     Ensure that police crash reports include designations for 
driver distractions and driver drowsiness/fatigue as contributory 
factors to crashes;
     Identify locations where drowsy driving crashes are most 
likely to occur and conduct enforcement efforts, as appropriate;
     Conduct regular enforcement, as well as high visibility 
enforcement, to address distracted driving and drowsy driving;
     Consider a special task force to deal exclusively with 
crash investigations thought to be the result of distracted and drowsy 
driving;
     Coordinate with educational and engineering activities;
     As needed, update the State's crash reporting form to be 
Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria (MMUCC) compliant with regard to 
distracted and drowsy driving codes; and
     Establish appropriate internal policies to limit 
distraction and institute fatigue management programs for law 
enforcement and other emergency personnel.
V. Highway and Traffic Engineering
    Including a highway and traffic engineering component can be 
especially important in drowsy and distracted driving crashes. Each 
State should consider a network level crash analysis or review of 
policy and standards to ensure the benefits of shoulder and center 
rumble strips placed on appropriate roads and work with local/State 
policymakers to have them installed. States should also consider 
improvements to the safety and availability of safe roadway rest stops 
to allow for rest and/or time to make phone calls, etc. States should 
include improved lighting uniformity at rest stops; this provides an 
environment where drivers may feel it is safer to stop and rest.
VI. Communication Program
    Each State should ensure that State and local programs contain a 
comprehensive communication component to support program and policy 
efforts, inclusive of social media and other relevant mediums that 
resonate with target audiences. The communication program should 
coordinate with law enforcement, businesses, health/medical, school- 
and college-based programs, and media outlets to share safety messages 
and campaign information. Communication programs and materials should 
be language and culturally relevant, and should address issues such as:
     Risks associated with distracted and drowsy driving;
     Signs and symptoms of distracted driving;
     Signs and symptoms of drowsy driving, including medicines 
and sleep disorders;
     Types of distractions beyond talking on a cell phone and 
texting, such as eating and drinking, using a GPS, grooming, etc.;
     Risks associated with distracted walking and bicycling;
     Countermeasures for dealing with distraction and 
drowsiness while driving;
     Laws and enforcement of laws, as appropriate; and
     Use of special events such as nationally recognized safety 
and injury prevention weeks to highlight the risks and dangers of 
distracted and drowsy driving.
VII. Driver Education and Licensing
    Younger drivers are at risk for both distracted and drowsy driving. 
As such, each State should coordinate distracted and drowsy driving 
information and outreach plans using educational and other collateral 
materials, and include issues of distracted and drowsy driving in 
licensing programs (including Graduated Driver Licensing), both in 
classroom and behind the wheel. Each State should include information 
on distracted and drowsy driving in the driver licensing manual and 
driver licensing test questions.
VIII. Evaluation
    Both problem identification and evaluation of distracted and drowsy 
driving crashes can be difficult. Often, a surviving driver may be 
reluctant to admit having been distracted or drowsy following a crash. 
However, each State can promote effective evaluation by:
     Supporting detailed analysis of police crash reports 
involving distracted and drowsy drivers;
     Evaluating the effectiveness of educational and 
communication programs by measuring behavior, knowledge, and attitude 
changes;
     Conducting and publicizing statewide surveys of public 
knowledge and attitude about distracted and drowsy driving;
     Conducting and publicizing observational surveys of driver 
distraction;
     Using available data to identify at-risk populations; and
     Ensuring that evaluation results are used to identify 
problems, plan new programs and improve existing programs and 
strategies.

    Authority: 44 U.S.C. Section 3506(c)(2)(A).

Jeff Michael,
Associate Administrator, Research and Program Development.
[FR Doc. 2016-20165 Filed 8-22-16; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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