Congressman Cohen Urges Committee to Consider Bipartisan Highway Safety Legislation

April 9, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, in a hearing on highway safety in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, Congressman Steve Cohen provided a statement encouraging the committee to consider his four bipartisan highway safety bills.

“According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 37,133 people lost their lives in accidents on U.S. roadways in 2017.  That’s 100 people dying each day in motor vehicle crashes. We must do better, said Congressman Cohen.

Fortunately, I believe there are several common-sense, bipartisan steps that Congress can take to improve highway safety. They include the DUI Reporting Act, the School Bus Safety Act, the Stop Underrides Act, and the Horse Transportation Safety Act… These bills will help save lives, and I hope this committee will take action on them.”

The DUI Reporting Act (H.R. 1914) would stop the dangerous practice of charging repeat drunk drivers as first-time offenders. Just a few years ago, two teenagers from Memphis were killed when the car they were driving was struck by a drunk driver who had accrued seven DUI charges since 2008 and had been allowed to plead guilty five times to a first-offense DUI. This legislation seeks to stop this by creating an incentive for local law enforcement to report DUI arrests to the National Crime Information System, allowing prosecutors to know if a defendant is a repeat offender.

The School Bus Safety Act would ensure that there are seat belts at every seat and buses are equipped with safety measures like stability control and automatic braking systems. In November 2016, there were two high-profile school bus accidents in Chattanooga, Tennessee and another in Baltimore, Maryland that resulted in the deaths of 6 school-aged children.

The Stop Underrides Act (H.R. 1511) would require all large truck trailers to have front, side, and rear underride guards. In 2014, Memphians Randy and Laurie Higginbotham, lost their 33-year old son Michael when his car crashed into a semi-truck trailer and ended up under it. The Stop Underrides Act would aim to prevent such accidents. 

The Horse Transportation Safety Act (H.R. 1400) would prevent drivers from exploiting a loophole in current regulation banning the transport of horses in double deck trailers, thus giving drivers an incentive to inhumanely transport horses to assembly points then reload them into single level trailers just outside their final destination. This practice is not only dangerous and inhumane to the horses, but to the traveling public, as well. If enacted, the Horse Transportation Safety Act would prohibit interstate transportation of horses in a motor vehicle containing two or more levels stacked on top of one another. It would also create civil penalties of at least $100 for each horse involved.