What the Federal Election Results Mean for a Transportation Bill
(content from the Safe Routes to School National Partnership included with permission)
Last week's elections are resulting in many changes in Congress. First and foremost, Congressman James Oberstar (D-MN), Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, lost his House seat in a close re-election. Since the House of Representatives has changed to Republican control, there will be a shift in leadership at the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee that governs transportation policy. Republicans will select their Committee chairs at the end of November, and it is expected that Rep. Mica (R-FL) will likely be selected to lead the Transportation Committee. The top "ranking member" spot for Democrats will likely go to either Rep. Rahall (D-WV) or Rep. DeFazio (D-OR).
In the Senate, Democrats retained control of the chamber and it is likely that the Committee on Environment and Public Works, which handles transportation, will remain under the leadership of Chairman Boxer (D-CA) and Ranking Member Inhofe (R-OK).
In terms of the overall transportation bill, the presumed House Transportation Chair Mica has already gone on the record indicating that he will work hard to pass a robust, long-term transportation bill. Getting that done will require bipartisan collaboration in a split Congress. And, funding the transportation bill remains a problem - Congress will have to identify a new revenue sources amenable to both Republicans and Democrats, or move forward with a smaller transportation bill. In the meantime, Congress must pass a transportation extension before December 31, 2010. A shorter extension could indicate that Congressional leaders are interested in working on a multi-year transportation bill.
Fatal Crashes Drop Among 16 and 17 Year Old Drivers
As reported in the October 22 issue of the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the rate of 16 to 17 year old drivers involved in fatal crashes decreased from 27.1 (per 100,000 population) to 16.7 (per 100,000 population) in four years.
This drop between 2004 and 2008 continues an extended decline. The CDC notes that states interested in further reducing fatal crashes involving young drivers should "reexamine and update graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs, and communities should vigorously enforce laws on minimum legal drinking age, blood alcohol concentration (BAC), and safety belt use."
Conference on the Health of Commercial Truck Drivers
The CDC has indicated that the average life expectancy for a commercial truck driver is a staggeringly brief 61 years, which is 16 years lower than the national average. The first International Conference on Commercial Driver Health and Wellness was held earlier this month in Baltimore, Maryland. The conference united motor carriers, academic researchers, health officials and state transportation officials to better understand the health challenges for drivers and to determine what can be implemented as solutions.