By on August 4, 2014

Capital Hill Interstate

Aside from funding issues with the U.S. Highway Trust Fund, state governments are having a difficult time applying — and receiving — federal grants to make their part of the system safer.

USA Today reports grants for graduated licensing for teens, ignition interlocks for DUI offenders, and distracted driving prevention have gone largely unclaimed. Though several states have laws on the books that would merit the boost, the qualifications necessary for each grant and the two-year time frame for each grant are too much of an obstacle to make the attempt, let alone be rejected by the federal government.

As a result, no states received grants for graduated licensing. New Jersey came close by mandating restrictions until the driver is 18 — which the grant requires — but the rest of the state’s GDL legislation failed to match up with the rest of the grant’s requirements.

Additionally, four states qualified for the ignition interlock grant by meeting the requirement that all first-time offenders must use interlocks for no less than 30 days.

Finally, Connecticut was the only state to win a grant for distracted driving prevention by imposing minimum fines that escalate with every new offense, as well as warn of the issue in driver’s licensing exams.

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35 Comments on “Federal Highway Safety Grants Go Mostly Unclaimed Over Stringent Qualifications...”


  • avatar

    It’s no wonder why the fund is bankrupt. A large amount of the money goes to non-road uses. There is around 30% misallocation. Not a single dime of that money should be going to bike paths. Bikers should be taxed for bike paths.

    Congress should simply use a graduated tax on gas – instead of a locked 18.4 cents – which responds to inflation. Just treat it as a tax on drivers and it won’t go insolvent. But stop letting liberals dip into it to fund their personal projects.

    Bike paths are a waste and lower productivity/efficiency.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Sorry BTSR, but bike paths–especially when they use the public streets and highways, ARE part of the nation’s highway infrastructure; safety for drivers, riders and even pedestrians is paramount. And yes, bikers ARE taxed, just like the rest of us.

      I do agree that road taxes need to be changed; they’re seriously outdated by relying so specifically on fuel taxes. With today’s cars and even trucks getting almost double the range out of a tank of fuel, that 18-20¢ per gallon total automatically gets cut in half, even discounting the inflation that’s occurred since that figure was imposed. But raising the gas tax will only raise the price of gas, driving more people to alternative fuels and even EVs–further reducing the income from such a tax.

      In fact, your argument reminds me of a discussion I had with my mother about 30 years ago–when fuel prices were significantly cheaper. I told her I was going to cross the state line to fill up my tank because the price was 10¢ per gallon cheaper. Now, when the fuel price is less than $1 per gallon, that 10¢ was a significant savings, but my mother argued that the gas tax was higher in the other state and I wouldn’t be saving anything. Huh? Somehow she got it in her mind that the gas tax got added on AFTER you pumped your fuel–something of which has never happened anywhere in this country that I am aware. I never could get it in her mind that what you pay at the pump is ALL that you pay–even after I took her with me and proved it.

      My point? Your argument is illogical. It is based on such a narrow point of view that you can’t see the trees for the forest. Student drivers use the road–it’s a road issue. Bikers use the road–it’s a road issue. Drunks use the road–it’s a road issue. Yes, I do agree that some of these restrictions seem a bit onerous, but they’re intended to serve a purpose–a purpose to make roads safer for everyone. Drivers education and traffic law enforcement is as much a road issue as the highway quality itself.

      • 0 avatar
        snakebit

        I’m one of those dreaded liberals in a liberal state, both a motorist and a user of bike paths for walking, not a bicyclist.About the use of road tax dollars, I’m in synch with Vulpine. In the case of bike paths and bike lanes, in addition to road tax, I’d like to see stricter enforcement and fines for bicyclists who fail to obey traffic laws. In my community, someone actively riding their bike is legally considered as a moving vehicle, just like moving car. I live near an extremely busy bike path that crosses a major commuting road in town. The path has TWO stop signs on each of the two exits dumping onto the road, but I have yet to see just one bicyclist get off of their bike and walk it across the road, very few even slow down while blowing across the road, regardless of traffic. The overwhelming attitude from bicylists seems to be the ‘yield to pedestrians in crosswalk’ sign really means Stop whether the bicyclist is in the crosswalk or 20 feet away. I’d like to see much more enforcement against bicyclists who don’t obey stop signs and red lights, and use those fines to help fund more bike paths and bicyclist safety. The rules that your parents made you pay attention to at 10 years old should be still in effect at 30 years old.

        • 0 avatar
          jimble

          How does it make anyone safer to make cyclists walk their bikes across the road? Would you ask drivers to push their cars across busy intersections?

          Bikes are not the same as cars. Cyclists have no blind spots and better maneuverability than drivers. The Idaho stop rule — to treat stop signs as yields and red lights as stop signs — makes more sense for bikes.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Cyclists need to stay off the frickin’ sidewalk and that definitely includes crosswalks. Unless they’re walking their bike. What part of “walk” don’t you understand?

            The same rules of the road apply to cyclists.

            I can’t drive my car on the sidewalk at 30 mph against the flow of traffic, so why should cyclists?

            I hate when they’re at the cross walk waiting for the light to turn and I’m coming up to them, about to turn right on red. A collision waiting to happen. They’re at 45 degrees to the intersection (on the handicap ramp), so you can’t tell if they’re about to bolt with the Northbound or wait for the Westbound (against the flow)for example, when the light turns.

            When they’re riding against the flow of traffic, on or off the sidewalk, they’re right where you don’t expect them. You’re pulling out of a driveway that’s usually blind on the right (with scrubs and whatnot) and you get hit by the stupid cyclist going the wrong way! I’ve had too many near-misses this way and they’re shouting at me!!! They don’t even realize how stupid they are. Until I tell them…

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            “and they’re shouting at me!!!”

            That’s what I’m talkin’ about. I remember the rash of “Share The Road With Bicycles” bumper stickers in the 90s.

            That always struck me about as sensible as airliners painted with “Share The Approach Pattern With Geese”.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          >> I live near an extremely busy bike path that crosses a major commuting road in town

          Sounds like Arlington MA where the Minuteman crosses Mass Ave. I usually jump off of the bike trail a block or two early and join the traffic on Mass Ave rather than deal with the crosswalks. I’m fast and have no problem keeping up with cars on that stretch of road. However, I do stop at that light if it’s red. Usually, if I’m just out for a ride, I turn around rather than deal with it.

          • 0 avatar
            snakebit

            Right church, wrong pew.

            I’m talking about the Lake St – Minuteman path intersection. The Mass Ave intersection is weighted with the odds heavily in favor of cars, so the bicyclist depends on the kindness of cars to let them cross near the dry cleaners, or moves on up to the RT 60 crosswalk where it’s governed by a signal anyway.

            As for ‘jimble’ and their question about safety, what makes walking your bike while crossing a crosswalk safer is that it forces the rider to confront an intersection with cars with the understanding that the biker, like the driver, does not hold the upperhand legally, and they certainly don’t hold the advantage, safety-wise.

            As for the ‘Idaho stop rule’, does that work the same in Boise as it does in Moscow, ID, where probably more bikes are used? Frankly, if it’s OK to yield, put a yield sign up, instead. No mix messages that way.

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        What highway has a bike lane?

      • 0 avatar
        cronus

        Bikes don’t pay the fuel taxes that contribute to the highway fund. If you want dedicated bike infrastructure that should be payed by the general fund or dedicated bike taxes. I agree that shared infrastructure can be payed for with highway funding but things like light rail, bike/walking paths, and non-transportation projects shouldn’t be, especially when highway infrastructure needs those funds for basic safety and maintenance costs.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          >> Bikes don’t pay the fuel taxes that contribute to the highway fund

          So if I show up at the gas station and can prove that I have a bike at home, they’ll refund my money? Didn’t know that.

          Bikes/Rail/Trails remove cars from the road. Less vehicles on the road lowers the cost of highway infrastructure. A single commuter rail train at rush hour in the Boston area has more than 1000 people aboard. The trains here keep thousands of cars off of the road.

          To commute from the North on I-93 in the Boston area, there are no tolls. Commuter rail from Zone 1 parallel to 93 is $12.00 round trip + $4.00 parking. So, who is paying?

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            Vulpine,
            Now here is an illogical argument. Just so you know. :)

          • 0 avatar
            cronus

            If you show up at a gas station to buy fuel for a vehicle you a paying a vehicle tax not a bike tax.

            The people receiving the benefit of the train are the ones who are on it, not the people who are driving. Why should someone else subsidize their choices?

            Again the drivers are paying for their own infrastructure through the fuel tax. The $12 commuter ticket is subsided by both the fuel taxes and the general fund.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Cronus:

            “Bikes don’t pay the fuel taxes that contribute to the highway fund.”
            You would rather those bikes run on the open highway?

            “The people receiving the benefit of the train are the ones who are on it, not the people who are driving.”
            You would rather have those extra thousands of cars in your way during rush hour?

            Transportation is transportation, whether that be by car, train, plane, boat, bicycle or shank’s mule. The better the transportation systems are organized and integrated, the better, faster and safer it is for ALL concerned–not just the driver who is too selfish (and has been for over half a century) to realize it. You want better highways? Then tell your favorite politician to allocate more money to it–through added taxes. That is, if you have the nerve to suggest this in such a “Tea Party” environment.

          • 0 avatar
            cronus

            I’m more then willing to pay taxes into the highway fund if those taxes are not misappropriated for other uses. You’re the one that doesn’t want to pay taxes and sounds like an anti tax tea partier. You call me selfish but you are the one who wants something without paying for it.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Cronus: Making assumptions again, I see. Where did I say I didn’t want to pay my taxes? I do pay them… all of them. Even when I don’t NEED to.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            Vulpine,
            It’s you that needs a refresh on the fund and it’s history. While I disagree with the absolutism being used to stop an increase in the fuel tax, it’s not unjustified and this tax is a good example why. It’s gone from a way to fund the highway system to a general transportation fund to a fund that was robbed for whatever to a tax actually raised for general revenue purposes (actually deficit reduction but that’s just totally transparent BS).

            It’s awfully convenient to forget the selling points when a tax is raised, but that ignores the the democracy part of our governmental system. I hate when someone pretends to speak for the public, but do you really believe most drivers think the fuel tax is just a general tax? Do you think it’s fair to charge poor workers a tax on their gas to build nice bike paths mostly used for the recreation of much wealthier urbanites?

            Down here in “hateful” Houston we recently added a lot of paths, and I suspect there may have been some federal funds, but millions were raised privately. Why send the money to Washington by demand when by creating a good plan and asking you could fund stuff locally? Old wealthy people love to get their names on bronze plaques after all.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Landcrusher:
            “but do you really believe most drivers think the fuel tax is just a general tax?”
            Yes, I do. Because the vast majority of drivers don’t even know–or care–that there’s a gas tax at all, so long as it doesn’t raise their gas prices.

            And while I won’t argue that SOME believe bike paths are used by “wealthier urbanites”, I might note that SOME riders ride bikes because they have no other transportation either due to inability to get a driver’s license or public transit doesn’t go where the individual needs to go. I used to work with one person who daily rode a bike 12 miles each way because his vision was too poor to drive a car–but was one HECK of an electronics technician. He didn’t have the “luxury” of bike lanes on the road he traveled and had more than one bike destroyed by careless drivers during the three years we worked together.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            Interesting retort, Vulp.

            You might as well have gone with something like, “Who cares about the lies of our leaders,” and followed it up with, ” there are people in Palestine who need bicycles.”

            I can totally understand a desire to provide bike paths with government funds. I think we do too much of it, but it’s a reasonable position. Can you not understand my position though? Is the idea of selling voters on a tax by claiming the funds will be used for one thing, and then, over time, abusing that trust just a non issue to you? Does the ends justify the means just because you agree with the ends?

            Btw, if you really need a bike path, you are gonna have a problem. They tend to disappear over time. So you are going to constantly have to move home or job to make it work. Those guys you can’t trust don’t even make the paths last.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Sorry, LC. “Those guys you can’t trust don’t even make the paths last.” It’s usually because people like you squeal or others throw things at bikers, forcing the communities to move the bike paths for their own safety–at added cost.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            Vulp,
            That’s incorrect as far as my local experience goes, but nice how you ignore all the other points and throw out that loser.

            The reality is that the paths disappear because there is inadequate maintenance money available. Combine that with liability and low use rates and it’s a no brainer to not renew all but the most popular bike paths. You see, it’s a good idea when it’s new and it makes the pols look good, but after there are many irritated drivers and pitifully few riders, no pol at any level is going to push for funds.

            The only paths that have stuck around here are along waterways and former rail paths and around parks. While some have use for commuters, mostly they are used for recreation. Best money spent for cycle commuters was the bike route signs that showed cyclists how to navigate through neighborhoods instead of driving along the major thoroughfares.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Last I checked, light rail and walking were forms of transportation.

          In any case, roads are getting financed out of the general fund and bond issues in the US. They are not self-sustaining, not by a long shot.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        His argument isn’t illogical at all. You just disagree. Also, I am unaware of fees paid into the fund tied to bicycle use and am interested in learning about that. I’m not necessarily against using the fund for other transportation projects, but since the drivers are paying the tax under the impression that it is a type of user fee, then the projects ought to reflect that. Intentions aren’t enough either. As soon as good intentions get acceptable, the pols stretch anything. “We intended the meeting would make the committee more efficient by acting as a team building exercise so the booze and hookers were funded…”

        There is a theme in this story. It’s regulatory creep.

        First, you have the Feds trying to run everything by tying funds to it. There was a time when that trick was a good idea, but it’s now being used to push the states around in every way possible, attack their sovereignty, play politics, eliminate experimentation, etc. Regulatory creep.

        Then, you have the fund itself. It was started to pay for highways. Now it gets used to pay for all sorts of things. I suspect this started with projects that were widely accepted would reduce congestion on the highways and are now being used to paint stripes on roads and pave paths in parks where cyclists really are not likely to be commuting. Also, the fund gets used to balance the budget by just leaving the money unspent. Regulatory creep.

        It’s like everything in government is a slippery slope.

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      I hate bicyclists. In towns where they’re numerous it’s like having to drive through herds of toddlers, all children of attorneys.

  • avatar
    LALoser

    In Honolulu the everyday observance is cyclists in a busy roadway, then come upon a red light, shoot onto the sidewalk…pedestrians and people waiting at bus stops are invisible, blast thru the crosswalk back onto the road. All of this without a glace to the side. They are used to people watching for them I guess.

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      That must occasionally make for a really satisfying *thunk*. For an observer anyway, wouldn’t want to be the poor driver.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      >> In Honolulu the everyday observance is cyclists in a busy roadway, then come upon a red light, shoot onto the sidewalk

      Of course, as we all know, motorists never run red lights, blast through crosswalks, make illegal turns… no, you’d never see a motorist violating a single law – never happens.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    So much pork it feels like a hearty breakfast.

    “state to win a grant for distracted driving prevention by imposing minimum fines that escalate with every new offense, as well as warn of the issue in driver’s licensing exams.”

    So CT gets paid for what its supposed to be doing in the first place, ya know, governing?

    • 0 avatar
      matador

      Yup. They get paid money so they can charge people.

      ——————

      I’m sure the politicians have our best interests at heart! After all, name one case in America where a politician has ever bowed to a special interest group, high-level donors, or anything like that. It never happens.


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