WASHINGTON — Nat Wienecke, senior vice president, federal government relations at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) issued the following statement regarding the House Appropriations Committee vote on the House Fiscal Year 2017 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) spending bill and accompanying report.
“PCI applauds the House Appropriations Committee for including language in its THUD report that directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), along with the National Institute on Drug Abuse and other related agencies, to conduct a study of marijuana-impaired driving,” said Wienecke. “Safety on the roads is a top issue for auto insurers and road fatalities are on the rise in the United States. Prompt action by NHTSA to conduct a study on marijuana-impaired driving is a critical step that could lead to reducing fatalities on the road.”
In January, NHTSA reported that in the first nine months of 2015, fatalities increased by more than 9 percent over the same period in 2014. Moreover, according to NHTSA, alcohol-impaired driving accounted for nearly 10,000 deaths in 2014 and resulted in $44 billion in economic costs. NTHSA’s 2013-2014 Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by drivers found that, while the number of drivers with alcohol in their systems has decreased by 30 percent since 2007, there has been “a large increase in the number of drivers using marijuana or illegal drugs.”
“In addition to the rise in drug impaired driving, PCI analysis has found that distracted walking and driving, more traffic congestion, and an increase in miles driven are likely to be playing a role in these accident frequency trends. While safety is our top priority, data also highlights that the insurance claims costs associated with accidents are becoming more expensive and this trend could impact insurance costs for consumers.
“It is important that we work together to promote driver safety and enact highway safety laws to protect motorists and pedestrians. PCI commends the leadership of Appropriations THUD Subcommittee Chairman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Vice Chairman Kevin Yoder (R-KS) for including this important report language in the committee’s report,” concluded Wienecke.