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Peters Applauds Passage of Highway Bill Including Vehicle-to-Infrastructure Technology Provision

Peters’ Provision Allows States to Use Existing Funds to Invest in Safety Technology

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) applauded the passage of a five-year highway bill in the Senate last night that includes language from his bipartisan Vehicle-to-Infrastructure Safety Technology Investment Flexibility Act of 2015. The provision allows states to use existing surface and highway transportation funds to invest in vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication technology that has the potential to help reduce traffic congestion and accidents.

“As we upgrade our nation’s infrastructure, we should ensure that the United States remains a leader in the development and implementation of new technologies like vehicle-to-infrastructure communications that can prevent accidents and save lives,” said Senator Peters. “I am pleased that my provision allowing states to invest in these critical safety technologies was included in the highway bill, which will give states more certainty to plan long-term infrastructure and transportation projects that create jobs and support economic growth.”

The highway legislation, also called the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, authorizes $305 billion in federal funding for highway programs for five years, including the National Highway Performance Program (NHPP), the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (STBGP) and the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP). Peters’ provision authorizes states to use funds from NHPP, STBGP and HSIP to incorporate V2I technology in infrastructure upgrades.

V2I technologies include wireless exchanges of safety and operational information between connected vehicles and infrastructure to help prevent collisions, relieve traffic congestion and reduce unnecessary energy consumption. Examples of V2I applications include monitors on bridges that communicate ice accumulation to approaching vehicles, traffic signals that warn vehicles of stopped traffic, or sensors warning of nearby emergency vehicles or work zones. A 2013 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA) study found that vehicle-to-vehicle and V2I technologies could save lives by eliminating up to 80 percent of vehicle accidents involving non-impaired drivers.

The final package also includes a Peters’ provision that requires the Secretary of Transportation, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Amtrak to conduct a post-accident assessment of Amtrak’s emergency preparedness plan and its response to families during the devastating crash in Philadelphia earlier this year that killed eight passengers and injured more than 200 others. The assessment will include a review of whether these plans adequately met the needs of passengers involved in the crash and their families, and a determination of how these plans can be improved. Peters’ suggested areas of review include the notification of emergency contacts, dedication of staff for family assistance, creation of family assistance centers at the location of an accident and the creation of a single customer service entity to assist passengers and their families after a crash.

“Family members of passengers who have been involved in an train derailment are filled with anxiety for the safety of their loved ones, and they should not have to worry about a lack of clear information or assistance,” said Senator Peters. “This measure will help ensure that Amtrak can provide passengers and family members the assistance they need in the wake of an accident.”

The legislation also includes a provision to reauthorize the charter for the Export-Import Bank, which expired earlier this year. Peters has called for the renewal of the bank’s charter because of the vital role it plays as a tool for economic growth. Last year, the Export-Import Bank supported more than 164,000 jobs and backed $27.4 billion in U.S. exports for businesses across the country, including $10 billion in exports by small businesses, which make up nearly 90% of Ex-Im's transactions. Since 2007, the Export-Import Bank has supported 228 Michigan exporters selling $11 billion worth of goods to places like Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Canada.