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Highway Safety Programs; Determination of Effectiveness

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  NHTSA, Federal Highway Administration

Highway Safety Programs; Determination of Effectiveness

Rodney E. Slater/Howard M. Smolkin (Federal Register)
January 14, 1994

[Federal Register Volume 59, Number 10 (Friday, January 14, 1994)]
[Unknown Section]
[Page 0]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 94-445]

[[Page Unknown]]

[Federal Register: January 14, 1994]


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Federal Highway Administration

23 CFR Part 1205

[NHTSA Docket No. 93-20; Notice 1]
RIN 2127-AE89


Highway Safety Programs; Determination of Effectiveness

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and 
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Department of Transportation 

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).


SUMMARY: The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 
(ISTEA) was signed into law December 18, 1991. Section 2002(a) of 
ISTEA, Highway Safety Programs, requires that the Secretary of 
Transportation either designate six key areas as priority highway 
safety programs or submit a report to congress describing the reasons 
for not prioritizing these programs. The six program areas involve: 
Speed control, Use of occupant protection devices, Driving while 
impaired, Motorcycle safety, School Bus Safety, and Police Traffic 
Services. The existing National Priority Program Areas address four of 
the six areas identified by the Act, but do not include Speed Control 
or School Bus Safety. The agencies have reviewed existing data and 
statistics regarding deaths and injuries attributable to these two 
areas and have considered the availability of existing countermeasures 
related to speed control and school bus safety, and tentatively propose 
to include Speed Control as a Priority Program Area, but have 
tentatively concluded that School Bus Safety does not warrant being 
included as a Priority Program. Interested persons are invited to 
submit comments on this proposal.

DATES: Comments on this document must be received no later than 
February 28, 1994.

ADDRESSES: Commenters should reference the docket and notice numbers of 
this document and be submitted (preferably in ten copies) to: Docket 
Section, room 5109, U.S. Department of Transportation, 400 7th Street, 
SW., Washington, DC 20590. Docket hours are from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In NHTSA: Ms. Marlene Markison, Office of Regional Operations, NRO-01, 
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 400 7th Street, SW., 
Washington, DC 20590, telephone: (202) 366-0166; or Ms. Kathy DeMeter, 
Office of Chief Counsel, National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration, telephone: (202) 366-1834. In FHWA: Ms. Julie Cirillo, 
HHS-112, Federal Highway Administration, telephone: (202) 366-2170.



    The State and Community Highway Safety Grant Program (the 402 
program) was established under the Highway Safety Act of 1966, 23 
U.S.C. 402. The Act required the establishment of Uniform Standards for 
State Highway Safety Programs to assist the States and local 
communities in organizing their highway safety programs.
    Eighteen such standards were established and have been administered 
at the Federal level by FHWA and NHTSA. NHTSA is responsible for 
developing and implementing highway safety programs relating to the 
vehicle and driver, while FHWA has similar responsibilities in program 
areas involving the roadway.
    Until 1976, the 402 program was principally directed towards 
achieving State and local compliance with the 18 Highway Safety Program 
Standards, which were considered mandatory requirements with financial 
sanctions for noncompliance. Under the Highway Safety Act of 1976, 
Congress provided for a more flexible implementation of the program so 
that the Secretary would not have to require State compliance with 
every uniform standard or with each element of every uniform standard. 
As a result, the standards became more like guidelines for use by the 
States. Management of the program then shifted from enforcing standards 
to one of problem identification, and countermeasure development and 
evaluation, using the standards as a framework for the State programs.
    In 1981, Congress passed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 
1981, Public Law 97-35, revising the section 402 program. The Act 
directed the agencies to conduct rulemaking to determine those State 
and local highway safety programs most effective in reducing accidents, 
injuries, and fatalities.
    On April 1, 1982, NHTSA and FHWA issued a joint final rule (47 FR 
15116) identifying six National Priority Program Areas which the 
agencies then considered to be the most effective highway safety 
programs. The six program areas included one FHWA program area, Safety 
Construction and Operational Improvements, and the following NHTSA 
Program Areas: Occupant Protection, Alcohol Countermeasures, Police 
Traffic Services, Emergency Medical Services, and Traffic Records.
    The April 1982 final rule provided that these National Priority 
Program Areas would be eligible for Federal funding under an expedited 
procedure under the 402 program (23 CFR 1205.4.). It also established a 
mechanism by which other, non-priority programs identified by a State 
may be eligible for Federal funding. (23 CFR 1205.5 (a) and (b).)

Periodic Review and Determination of Priority Programs

    On April 2, 1987, the enactment of the Surface Transportation and 
Uniform Relocation Assistance Act of 1987 (Pub. L. 100-17) revised 23 
U.S.C. 402. The changes provided for a periodic review of the 
effectiveness of the various programs eligible for funding under 
section 402 in reducing crashes, injuries and fatalities. The periodic 
review procedure was believed to be the best method of ensuring the 
continued relevance of the section 402 program to changing 
circumstances and traffic safety needs, and for ensuring that Federal 
funds continue to be used for the most effective programs.
    The legislation also provided that the terms ``standard'' and 
``standards'' within 23 CFR Part 1204 be replaced with the words 
``guideline'' and ``guidelines.'' The purpose of this amendment was to 
conform the language of section 402 to the current implementation of 
the programs.
    Pursuant to these amendments, NHTSA and FHWA conducted a rulemaking 
action to review those programs most effective in reducing crashes, 
injuries and fatalities. In a final rule issued on April 6, 1988, (53 
FR 1255) the agencies determined that the National Priority Program 
Areas should continue to include the one FHWA program area, Roadway 
Safety (formerly, Safety Construction and Operational Improvements), 
and the five NHTSA program areas that had been identified in 1982. In 
addition, the agencies determined that a sixth NHTSA area, Motorcycle 
Safety, should also be included.
    On May 3, 1991, NHTSA/FHWA published a joint NPRM (56 FR 20387) 
proposing to add Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety as one of the National 
Priority program areas. The public comments supported that proposal and 
resulted in the addition of that area as one of the National Priority 
Program Areas eligible for the expedited funding process.
    As a result of these prior rulemaking actions, the National 
Priority Program Areas currently include the following:
    1. Alcohol and Other Drug Countermeasures
    2. Police Traffic Services
    3. Occupant Protection
    4. Traffic Records
    5. Emergency Medical Services
    6. Motorcycle Safety
    7. Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety and
    8. Roadway Safety
    The agencies apply three criteria to determine whether a program 
area should be identified as a National Priority Program under 23 CFR 
Part 1205:
     Whether the problem is of national concern;
     Whether effective countermeasures have been developed in 
this area which address this concern; and
     Whether State programs in the area appear to be among the 
most effective in reducing crashes, injuries, and fatalities as 
compared to other traffic safety program areas.
    In determining whether a problem is of national concern, the 
agencies consider the relative magnitude of the problem.
    Today's notice is being issued to solicit comments on a proposal of 
the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the 
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to expand this list of National 
Priority Program Areas to include Speed Control, and to obtain comments 
on the agencies' preliminary determination that School Bus Safety 
should not be added as a National Priority Program Area at this time. 
The agencies have considered relevant data, statistics, and other 
available information in reaching this conclusion and now seek public 
comments from interested parties on these tentative determinations. The 
following discussion highlights the key issues and factors considered 
by the agencies in making these preliminary determinations. (In a 
separate notice published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal 
Register, the agencies are requesting comments on revisions and 
amendments to Highway Safety Program Guidelines relating to several 
program areas including Speed Control.)

Speed Control as a National Priority Area

Is Speeding a Problem of National Concern?

    The issue of speed control has received considerable attention by 
NHTSA and FHWA. Over the course of the agencies' history, we have 
funded and promoted many programs and initiatives addressing the 
problem. Speeding is defined as not only exceeding the posted speed 
limit, but also driving too fast for conditions. Some common 
conclusions from these programs and initiatives indicate that higher 
speeds and speeds too fast for conditions (whether or not travelling in 
excess of the speed limit) adversely affect the safety of motorists.
Speeding is Becoming More Prevalent
    While many speed/traffic surveys are taken, reliable data on travel 
speed are relatively limited, and often difficult to compare. The most 
reliable speed data are those reported by the States for National 
Maximum Speed Limit (NMSL) roadways posted at 55 mph. The Federal 
Highway Administration (FHWA) publishes an annual report containing a 
compendium of speed monitoring data submitted by each State. Analyses 
of recent speed monitoring data by the FHWA indicate that speeds at 
which many motorists travel have increased in recent years.
    There are less comprehensive data collected for roadways which have 
speed limits of less than 55 mph, including the many rural highways and 
urban/suburban streets and roads which are posted at lower speeds for 
reasons of road design, traffic patterns, volume, and safety. These 
non-NMSL roads account for 74 percent of the total paved road mileage 
in the U.S. and for approximately 47 percent of all traffic deaths. The 
lack of empirical data makes it difficult to identify the extent of the 
speeding problem on these non-NMSL roads. A recent FHWA study of these 
roads entitled Assessment of Current Speed Zoning Criteria found that: 
(1) On average, seven out of ten motorists exceeded posted limits; (2) 
average speeds ran approximately two to six mph above posted limits; 
and (3) prevailing 85th percentile speeds ran approximately eight to 
twelve mph above posted limits. The observations of law enforcement 
executives and other highway safety officials confirm that speeds are 
increasing on these roads.
    Speed surveys on the Interstate highways also show that average 
speeds and the percent of traffic travelling at high speeds have also 
increased on these roads. For example, the percent of vehicles 
exceeding 65 mph (on roadways with a 65 mph speed limit) were estimated 
to be 47 percent in 1990 (up from 37% in 1988) while those exceeding 70 
mph accounted for approximately 19 percent (up from approximately 16 
percent in 1988).
    After Congress amended the NMSL in 1987 to permit 20 States to 
increase the speed limit to 65 mph on rural interstates as a 
demonstration program, NHTSA issued a detailed report on the effects of 
the increase. This interim report indicated that average speeds 
increased somewhat on rural interstates. The latest NMSL research, 
contained in the agency's Report to Congress on the Effects of the 65 
mph Speed Limit through 1990 (NHTSA, May 1992), shows the average 
travel speed on rural 65 mph Interstates in 1990 was 65 mph (up from 63 
mph in 1988); the 85th percentile speed was 71 mph (up from 69 mph in 
1988); and fatalities on rural interstates were an estimated 30 percent 
higher in 1990 than the number expected, based on historical trends, 
had the speed limit remained at 55 mph. A series of focus group 
discussions held by NHTSA with the general public suggest that most 
drivers recognize speeding as a violation of the law, but few regard 
the violation as a serious offense.
    These studies all suggest that the motoring public does not view 
speeding per se as an immediate risk to their personal safety.
Excessive Speed Causes Crashes
    Speeding is one of the most prevalent reported factors associated 
with crashes. Studies identify correlations between speeding and other 
factors including alcohol involvement, young drivers, male drivers, 
motorcyclists, and nighttime driving. Speeding is cited as a 
contributing factor in approximately 11 percent of all police-reported 
crashes and in approximately 34 percent of all fatal crashes (NHTSA, 
Fatal Accident Reporting System, 1991). It is estimated that in 1991, 
13,909 fatalities and 77,277 moderate to critical injuries occurred in 
speed-related crashes. The economic cost of all speed-related crashes 
(including all injury levels) was over $18 billion.
    Excessive speed has long been recognized as one of the prime 
factors contributing to motor vehicle crashes. This contribution has 
several sources:
     Drivers have less time to react when travelling at higher 
speeds since speed increases the distance a vehicle travels during the 
time it takes for a driver to react to a perceived danger;
     Speed increases the total stopping distance necessary to 
halt a vehicle; and
     Speed reduces a driver's ability to steer safely around 
curves on highways, or objects in the roadway.
    A major speed-related factor which has been linked to crash 
involvement is speed variance: The difference in speed among vehicles 
in the traffic stream. Speed variance is calculated in terms of 
standard deviation from the mean speed. For example, ten vehicles all 
traveling at 55 mph on the same highway would have a mean speed of 55 
mph and a standard deviation of zero, whereas five vehicles traveling 
at 65 mph and five vehicles traveling at 45 mph would have a mean speed 
of 55 mph but a standard deviation of 10.5.
    Research studies such as those in 55: A Decade of Experience 
(Transportation Research Board, 1984) have shown that motor vehicle 
crashes are more likely where speed variance is greater. As speed 
variance increases, vehicles come close to each other more frequently. 
This leads to more frequent lane changes and passing maneuvers as the 
faster drivers seek to avoid slower vehicles. Data from the National 
Crash Severity Study (1979) show that vehicles travelling 20 mph above 
the average speed experience a crash risk 11 times greater than those 
travelling at the average speed. This data implies that crashes can be 
reduced by controlling speed variance. Controlling speed variance is 
especially critical on roadways with speed limits less than 65 mph, 
where conflicting actions and reactions typically cause much larger 
variations in speed.
Speed Increases the Severity of Crashes
    The trend toward increased speeds is cause for concern because of 
the reduced margin for error and the increase in severity for those 
vehicles involved in crashes. As the speed of a car increases from 20 
mph to 80 mph, a factor of four, the energy of the impact delivered in 
a collision with a fixed object goes up by a factor of sixteen. The 
chance of death or serious injury increases dramatically for every 10 
mph increase in vehicle speed for the crash involved vehicle. The 
National Crash Severity Study (NHTSA, 1979) revealed that a driver 
crashing with a 50 mph change in velocity is twice as likely to be 
killed as one crashing with a 40 mph change in velocity. In short, 
crashes at higher speeds increase the potential for more deaths and 
disabling injuries.

Have Effective Speed Control Countermeasures Been Developed?

    Enforcement personnel have several effective countermeasures 
available for speed control which have been developed by new 
technology. Traditional methods of speed control once involved the use 
of stopwatches and pneumatic hoses stretched across the roadway to 
determine vehicle speeds. Later developments included the introduction 
of radar and VASCAR which more precisely measured vehicle speeds and 
reduced the degree of possible operator error. Currently laser speed 
measuring devices with an extremely high degree of accuracy are 
becoming available to the law enforcement community.
    NHTSA has taken an active role in identifying and evaluating new 
law enforcement technology. After evaluating new devices, NHTSA has 
established demonstration programs to introduce those devices into the 
law enforcement community to further advance speed control efforts. 
These demonstration programs have included enforcing speed limits using 
radar, VASCAR, laser speed measuring devices, aerial speed measurement, 
photo radar, electronic signing and saturation patrols.
    NHTSA studies show that one of the best methods to obtain 
compliance with speed limits is to combine an aggressive enforcement 
campaign with a vigorous public information and education effort. 
Public service announcements (PSA) regarding speed are regularly 
developed and distributed by NHTSA. Furthermore, other effective 
countermeasures, such as saturation patrols and multi-agency, multi-
jurisdictional enforcement efforts, have been developed and furnished 
to the law enforcement community. These programs can easily become a 
part of an agency's traffic enforcement program.
    Several highway design and traffic control measures have also 
demonstrated effectiveness for speed control. Freeway design, 
culminating in the Interstate System, eliminated all at-grade 
intersections thus providing for free flow traffic. This singular 
design characteristic resulted in significant reduction in speed 
variance and the promotion of uniform operating speed. Speed variances 
on the Interstate System have traditionally been in the range of 6-9 
miles per hour while speed variances on non-freeway facilities can be 
as great as 20 miles per hour.
    In addition, the need to control speed for varying conditions has 
led to the development of variable message speed signs. These devices, 
first used on the New Jersey Turnpike in the late 1960's have had 
widespread implementation on all types of facilities and warn drivers 
of impeding congestion, weather conditions, construction, and incidents 
which required reduction in operating speed. Real time regulatory 
variable speed limits are now being tested in the State of Washington.
    The agencies believe that Federal, State, and local governments 
should have balanced programs that use the most cost-effective 
strategies for decreasing crash risks from speeding. This includes: (1) 
Targeting enforcement where speeding has a significant impact on public 
safety and accompanying it with public information and education; (2) 
using a variety of techniques and technologies for speed control; (3) 
understanding who speeds, where, and why; and (4) ensuring that posted 
speed limits are appropriate for conditions. These efforts can be 
further enhanced through the development of comprehensive speed control 
programs which include establishment of appropriate criteria for the 
setting and posting of speed limits, focused attention upon roadway 
construction and condition, posting of appropriate roadway signs, 
elimination of hazards adjacent to the roadway, and establishment of 
research projects to further study the characteristics and consequences 
of speeding in order to develop improved countermeasures and 
    NHTSA submitted a report to Congress in 1991 entitled Speed 
Enforcement Program Plan to identify methods to address the speeding 
problem. The plan relies heavily upon programs and projects that have 
proven to be most effective and outlines speed control initiatives that 
have proven successful. The plan also stresses a law enforcement 
commitment to controlling speed on all public roads, using state-of-
the-art equipment, with a strong emphasis on public information and 
education designed to increase driver compliance with speed limits.

Are State Speed Control Programs Effective in Reducing Crashes, 
Injuries, and Fatalities?

    The State programs that have been conducted to date demonstrate 
that speed control countermeasures are extremely effective in reducing 
deaths and injuries. For example, the New York State Police 55 mph 
enforcement project was successful in decreasing the number of drivers 
traveling at the highest rates of speed (often considered to be 
``professional speeders''). While average speed declined slightly from 
61.6 to 61.3 mph, the percent of drivers exceeding 70 mph declined from 
6.9% to 5.1%. The percent exceeding 65 mph declined from 24.1% to 
21.4%, and the percent exceeding 60 mph declined from 56.4% to 55.7%. 
This success is believed to have ultimately led to reductions in the 
number of fatal crashes, fatalities and serious injuries suffered in 
New York.
    In South Carolina, it is believed that the state's rural initiative 
involving sheriffs contributed to a significant reduction in crashes, 
injuries, and fatalities in 1991 as compared to 1989. During that 
period, the state experienced 12,472 fewer crashes, 2,331 fewer 
injuries and 106 fewer fatalities. South Carolina's PSA campaign also 
received widespread recognition from across the State and is believed 
to have contributed to the reduction of crashes during the time the 
campaign was operational.
    During the first year of the St. Louis enforcement operation, 
ending September 1991, the average speed dropped from 62 mph to 61 mph 
on the 55 mph roadways in the metro area, as a result of the police 
agencies issuing 3,698 citations and 5,600 warnings for speeding during 
the Operation Gateway period. This cooperative program is continuing 
and is expected to result in further speed decreases on the involved 
roadways in the metro St. Louis area.
    Similarly, the speed control efforts targeting commercial vehicles 
appear to be effective, with early results from the 1987 Commercial 
Motor Vehicle Enforcement project in California indicating that all 
crashes where commercial vehicles were at fault decreased by 3.5% (from 
810 in 1986 to 782 in 1987) in the five test sites throughout the 
State. Further, the number of accidents caused by commercial vehicles 
which resulted in injuries in these test sites also declined by 11.2% 
(from 259 in 1986 to 230 in 1987). Accompanying that reduction was a 
corresponding decrease in the societal cost of injuries and fatalities 
resulting from such crashes.

Determination Regarding Speed Control

    The agencies believe it is clear that excessive speed does 
represent a significant traffic safety problem. Speeding is a problem 
throughout the country in all regions and on all types of roads. 
Numerous countermeasures have been developed that have proven to be 
most effective in addressing this problem.
    The agencies, therefore, tentatively conclude that Speed Control 
meets all requisite criteria and propose to include it as a National 
Priority Program Area.

School Bus Safety as a National Priority Area

Is School Bus Safety a Problem of National Concern?

    The safety of children in school buses has been a primary concern 
of parents and school systems ever since buses began to be used to 
transport children. That concern has helped develop school buses into 
the safest form of transportation in the country. According to the 
National Safety Council's ``Accident Facts'' (1991), during the 1989-90 
school year, it is estimated that 380,000 buses were used to transport 
22 million pupils approximately 3.8 billion miles (21 million miles per 
school day). The National Safety Council statistics also indicate 
fatality rates per hundred million passenger miles in 1989 were 1.12 
for passenger cars and 0.04 for school buses.
    The relative safety of school buses is evident from the following 
table, which shows all vehicle occupant fatalities. Included are the 
number of preschool (0-4) and school-age children (5-18) who were 
fatally injured in motor vehicle crashes in 1990, and the type of 
vehicle in which they were riding at the time.

        Table 1.--Occupant Fatalities by Vehicle Type and Age Group Fatal Accident Reporting System 1990        
                                                                         Age of occupant                        
                                       Total    ----------------------------------------------------------------
                                                     0-4          5-12        13-18         19+        Unknown  
        Total.....................       37,134          623          716        4,292       31,466           37
Vehicle type:                                                                                                   
    Passenger Car.................       24,092          476          457        3,042       20,086           31
    Light Truck/Van...............        7,387          101          164          701        6,419            2
    Medium Truck..................          134            2            0            7          125            0
    Heavy Truck...................          571            2            4            7          556            2
    Motorcycle....................        3,244            2           27          310        2,904            1
    School Bus....................           13            0            5            2            6            0
    Other Bus.....................           19            0            1            4           14            0
    On/Off Road Vehicle...........        1,214           33           35          149          997            0
    Other Vehicle.................          296            4           19           55          218            0
    Unknown.......................          164            3            4           15          141            1

    School bus-related crashes result in fatalities not only to 
occupants of school buses and other vehicles, but also to pedestrians. 
Pedestrians accounted for 28 percent of the total school bus-related 
fatalities from 1986 through 1990. In crashes involving school buses 
during that period, an average of 38 pedestrians were fatally injured 
each year, with 72 percent being struck by the bus, while the remaining 
28 percent were struck by another vehicle. Approximately 75 percent of 
pedestrian fatalities involving school buses from 1986-1990 were of 
school age (less than 20 years of age); of these, approximately 69 
percent were struck by the bus.
    The National Safety Council reports that during the 1989-1990 
school year, most of these pedestrian fatalities involved individuals 
who were either approaching or leaving a loading zone and that more 
than half of the pupil pedestrian victims were struck by the school bus 
which they were boarding or exiting. The National Academy of Science's 
Special Report No. 222, ``School Bus Safety,'' (1989) states that 
injuries received at bus stops tend to be more severe than injuries 
received on board a bus. The report also states that, as pedestrians, 
children between the ages of five and six are particularly vulnerable 
and account for more than one-half of the young pedestrians fatally 
injured by school buses.
    School bus crashes have a much different effect on the population 
as a whole than automobile crashes. When a child is fatally injured in 
a school bus crash there is a greater sense of loss and a greater sense 
of tragedy. For this reason, school bus fatalities and crashes often 
receive a high degree of public attention and draw an immediate and 
passionate response from the community. However, the number of 
fatalities in school bus crashes is small, particularly when 
considering exposure and when compared to the number of fatalities 
related to other priority programs.
    In 1991, passenger cars were involved in 82.8 percent of all 
traffic crashes and 67.9 percent of all fatal crashes; whereas school 
buses were involved in only 0.4 percent of all traffic crashes and in 
0.3 percent of all fatal crashes. These data demonstrate that the 
safety problem related to school buses is not great when compared to 
that of other types of vehicles.

Have Effective School Bus Safety Measures Been Developed?

    Although statistics demonstrate that school buses already provide a 
remarkably safe form of transportation, the agency has taken steps to 
further improve school bus safety. At the request of Congress, the 
National Academy of Sciences (NAS) studied school bus safety to 
determine which safety measures would be ``most effective'' in 
protecting school children while boarding, exiting and riding in school 
buses. (See, ``Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance 
Act of 1987,'' Pub. L. 100-17, 204(a), 101 Stat. 219, April 2, 1987.) 
In May 1989, the National Research Council (NRC), an agency of the NAS, 
issued a report entitled ``Improving School Bus Safety,'' Special 
Report No. 222. The report confirmed the high level of safety provided 
by the Nation's school bus fleet, and also suggested measures that 
could further improve the safety of school buses.
    In accordance with the 1987 law, NHTSA reviewed the findings of the 
NAS report and, on July 13, 1989, published a notice in the Federal 
Register (54 FR 29629), in which the agency determined which safety 
measures would be most effective in protecting the safety of school 
children while boarding, exiting and riding in school buses.
    NHTSA found replacing pre-1977 school buses to be a ``most 
effective'' measure, because of the higher level of crashworthiness 
provided by NHTSA's 1977 school bus standards, the improved mirror 
systems, and other crash avoidance measures typically provided on newer 
school buses. The agency also found prohibiting standees on school 
buses to be a ``most effective'' measure. In addition, NHTSA found a 
number of measures which address the safety of children while boarding 
or exiting the bus to be ``most effective.'' They include equipping new 
buses with stop signal arms and cross-view mirrors and implementing 
student crossing, pedestrian safety education and school bus driver 
training programs. NHTSA also identified a number of measures as 
    The agency took several steps to encourage the adoption of these 
``effective'' and ``most effective'' measures. In FY's 1990 and 1991, 
NHTSA set aside, in accordance with provisions in the Highway Safety 
Act of 1987 (Title II, Pub. L. 100-17), funds to assist the States in 
implementing these school bus safety measures. The funds were used by 
States on measures that had been designated by NHTSA to be either 
``effective'' or ``most effective'' in improving school bus safety.
    In addition, NHTSA conducted a number of rulemaking actions to 
upgrade the agency's school bus safety standards. For example, NHTSA 
issued a final rule on May 3, 1991, requiring new school buses 
manufactured after September 1, 1992, to be equipped with a stop signal 
arm (56 FR 20363); a final rule on November 2, 1992, revising the 
minimum requirements for school bus emergency exits and improving 
access to school bus emergency doors (57 FR 49413); and a final rule on 
December 2, 1992, requiring that school buses enable drivers to see, 
either directly or through mirrors, certain specified areas in front of 
and along both sides of the buses (57 FR 57000).
    Further, as stated previously, in a final rule dated October 4, 
1991, NHTSA and FHWA expanded the list of National Priority programs 
areas, which are eligible for section 402 funding using an expedited 
process, to include Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety. The agencies 
considered the problem of school bus-related pedestrian fatalities when 
they decided to add Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety to the list of 
priority programs, and specifically stated, in the final rule, that 
programs designed to prevent these fatalities are within the scope of 
this new priority program.

Are These School Bus Safety Measures Effective in Reducing Crashes, 
Injuries, and Fatalities?

    As stated previously, school buses already provide the safest form 
of transportation in our country. Since the number of fatalities that 
are school bus-related is already so small, it is difficult to quantify 
the benefits of the actions that have been taken. The agencies believe, 
however, that these measures are the ones most likely to reduce or 
eliminate fatal and serious injuries.

Determination Regarding School Bus Safety

    Based upon the agencies' review of the available material regarding 
the scope of the problem, including FHWA studies regarding bus driver 
training and driver fatigue, we have determined that significant 
attention has been devoted to school bus safety, and steps have been 
taken to improve the already excellent safety record of this mode of 
    In view of the successful measures already taken, the agencies do 
not view school bus transportation as a problem nearly as significant 
as other highway safety program areas.
    Furthermore, the states already have the ability under the section 
402 program to address school bus and other highway safety programs, 
and are proficient in allocating existing resources as they deem 
necessary to achieve maximum safety benefits. In addition, the recent 
designation of Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety as a National Priority 
program area has facilitated the States' ability to address the 
majority of school bus-related fatalities, which occur while children 
are boarding or existing, not riding the bus.
    The agencies believe that the establishment of School Bus Safety as 
a priority area could result in States shifting 402 funds away from 
other priority programs, and that the expenditure of an increased level 
of 402 funds in this manner would not significantly affect the overall 
safety of school buses.
    Therefore, the agencies tentatively conclude that School Bus Safety 
should not be included as a National Priority program at this time. The 
agencies wish to stress that this tentative decision should not be 
construed to imply that the current resources focused upon School Bus 
Safety should be reduced or redirected. NHTSA and FHWA believe that all 
existing efforts in this area should be continued to maintain the 
impressive safety record associated with school bus transportation. The 
agencies hereby request data, statistics, and other substantive 
information relevant to this determination.


    Those wishing to comment on this document should limit comments to 
the safety aspects of these two programs, and submit data or statistics 
which demonstrate the extent of the nation's highway safety problem 
which is attributable to either Speeding or School Bus Safety, along 
with any discussion of countermeasures which are or could be effective 
in reducing the number of deaths and injuries in either of these two 
areas. In determining whether these programs should be identified as 
National Priority Programs, the agencies will determine whether the 
problem is of national concern; whether effective countermeasures have 
been developed to address the concern; and whether State programs 
appear to be among the most effective as compared to other traffic 
safety program areas.
    In order to expedite the submission of comments, simultaneous with 
issuance of this notice, copies of this notice will be mailed to all 
Governors and Governors' Representatives for Highway Safety.
    Comments should not exceed 15 pages in length. It is requested but 
not required that 10 copies be submitted. Necessary attachments may be 
appended to these submissions without regard to the 15-page limit. This 
limitation is intended to encourage commenters to detail their primary 
arguments in a concise fashion.
    All comments received before the closing date indicated above will 
be considered, and will be available for examination in the docket at 
the above address both before and after that date. To the extent 
possible, comments filed after the closing date will also be 
considered. However, the rulemaking action may proceed at any time 
after that date. The agencies will continue to file relevant material 
in the docket as it becomes available after the closing date, and it is 
recommended that interested persons continue to examine the docket for 
new material.
    Those persons desiring to be notified upon receipt of their 
comments in the docket should enclose, in the envelope with their 
comments, a pre-addressed stamped postcard. Upon receiving the 
comments, the docket supervisor will return the postcard by mail.

Economic and Other Effects

    The agencies have considered the impacts that would be associated 
with this proposed action, and determined that it is significant within 
the meaning of Executive Order 12866 and the DOT Regulatory Policies 
and Procedures since it raises policy issues concerning the setting of 
priority programs. This rulemaking document was reviewed under E.O. 
12866. The rulemaking would not affect the level of funding available 
in the highway safety program, or otherwise have a significant economic 
impact. The agency has prepared a Preliminary Regulatory Evaluation 
which is available in the docket.

Small Entity Impact

    In compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act, the agencies 
have evaluated the effects of this action on small entities. Based on 
the evaluation, we certify that this rule will not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. States will 
be recipients of any funds awarded under the regulation and, 
accordingly, the preparation of a Regulatory Flexibility Analysis is 

Environmental Impacts

    The agencies have also analyzed this action for the purpose of the 
National Environmental Policy Act. The agencies have determined that 
this action would not have any effect on the human environment.

Federalism Assessment

    This action has been analyzed in accordance with the principles and 
criteria contained in Executive Order 12612 and it has been determined 
that it has no federalism implication that warrants the preparation of 
a federalism assessment.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The requirement relating to this proposal, that each State must 
submit a highway safety plan to receive section 402 grant funds, is 
considered to be an information collection requirement, as that term is 
defined by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in 5 CFR part 
1320. Accordingly, these requirements have been submitted to and 
approved by OMB, pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 
3501 et seq.). These requirements have been approved through 11/30/95; 
OMB No. 2127-0501. This NPRM would establish no new information 
collection requirement, as that term is defined by the OMB in 5 CFR 
part 1320.

List of Subjects in 23 CFR Part 1205

    Grant programs, Highway safety.

    In consideration of the foregoing, the agencies propose to amend 23 
CFR part 1205 as follows:


    1. The authority citation for part 1205 continues to read as 

    Authority: 23 U.S.C. 402; delegations of authority at 49 CFR 
1.48 and 1.50.

    2. In Sec. 1205.3, paragraph (a)(7) is added to read as follows:

Sec. 1205.3  Identification of National Priority Program Areas.

    (a) * * *
    (7) Speed enforcement.
* * * * *
    Issued on January 4, 1994.
Rodney E. Slater,
Administrator, Federal Highway Administration.
Howard M. Smolkin,
Executive Director, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
[FR Doc. 94-445 Filed 1-13-94; 8:45 am]

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