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We ask that question today because of a disturbing report released by the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General, who found that a number of states have failed to spend millions of dollars of grants they received from the federal government to improve safety on the nation’s highways. David Shepardson of the Detroit News describes the failure of the federal and state governments to act in the interest of the public’s safety even when they have more than adequate funding:
Washington —A new report says states have failed to spend more than $530 million in federal highway safety grants since 2006.
The Transportation Department’s Office of Inspector General said in a report released Monday that states haven’t spent $538.8 million in grants awarded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration between 2006 and 2012….
The grants are aimed at reducing the number of crashes and deaths. More than 33,500 people were killed in traffic crashes in 2012, up 3.3 percent, while 2.36 million were injured in 5.6 million crashes. “Unused safety grant funds represent delayed or lost opportunities to fund programs that help reduce fatalities, injuries, and property damage,” the report said.
The really funny part of this failure is that the Transportation Department threatened to shut down its highway safety grant programs back in 2010 unless the U.S. Congress acted to approve funding for the Department:
All of NHTSA’s State highway safety grant programs would shut down. In addition to the furlough of its personnel, NHTSA would have to shut down operations of Highway Safety Research and Development; National Driver Register (NDR); and Highway Safety Grants, and would have to stop paying all bills for the programs under these accounts.
The Congress acted to approve the funding, and now we find out that the recipients of these safety grants apparently are either unwilling or incapable of spending the amount of money they’ve been awarded for the specific purpose of improving the public’s safety on the nation’s highways.
Something to consider if you see any accidents on the nation’s highways this Labor Day holiday weekend!