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Millions of Americans were injured in transportation accidentsthe overwhelming majority involving automobiles.
Each means of transportation bas developed safety programs of varying effectiveness. Yot wo lack a comprehensive program keyed to a total transportation system.
Proved safety techniques in one means have not always boon adapted in others.
Last year the highway death toll set a new rocord. The prodiction for this year is that more than 50,000 persons will die on our streets and highways—more than 50,000 useful and promising lives will be lost, and as many families stung by grief.
The toll of Americans killed in this way since the introduction of the automobile is truly unbelievable. It is 1.5 million more than all the combat deaths suffered in all our wars.
No other necessity of modern life has brought more convenience to the American people or more tragedy-than the automobile.
WHY WE ARE FAILING The carnage on the highways must be arrested.
As I said some weeks ago, we must replace suicide with sanity and anarchy with safety.
The weaknesses of our present highway safety program must be corrected:
Our knowledge of causes is grossly inadequate. Expert opinion is frequently contradictory and confusing.
Existing safety programs are widely dispersed. Government and private efforts proceed separately, without effective coordination.
There is no clear assignment of responsibility of the Federal level.
The allocation of our resources to highway safety is inadequate.
Neither private industry nor Government officials concerned with automotive transportation have made safety first among their priorities. Yet we know that expensive freeways, powerful engines, and smooth exteriors will not stop the massacre on our roads.
What Can Be Done State and local resources are insufficient to bring about swift reductions in the highway death rate. The Federal Government must provide additional resources. Existing programs must be expanded. Pioneer work must begin in neglected areas.
Federal highway safety responsibilities should be incorporated into the Department of Transportation, in a total transportation safety program.
I have already set in motion a number of steps under existing law:
1. To strengthen the Federal role, I am assigning responsibility for coordinating Federal highway safety programs to the Secretary of Commerce. I am directing the Secretary to establish a major highway safety unit within his Department. This unit will ultimately be transferred to the Department of Transportation. The President's Committee on Traffic Safety will be reorganized, strengthened, and supported entirely by Federal funds. The Interdepartmental Highway Safety Board will be reconstituted and the Secretary's role strengthened.
2. To give greater support to our safety programs. I am requesting increased funds for research, accident data collection, improved emergency medical service, driver education and testing, and traffic control technology.
I have also asked the Secretary of Commerce to evalute systematically the resources allocated to traffic safety, to insure that we are receiving the maximum benefits from our present efforts.
3. To improve driving conditions. I have ordered that high priority be given to our efforts to build safety features into the Federal-aid highway network.
4. To save those who are injured. I have directed the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, in cooperation with the Secretary of Commerce, immediately to initiate projects to demonstrate techniques for more effective emergency care and transportation. He will work in full cooperation with State, local, and private officials.
5. To help us better understand the causes of highway accidents.—I have asked the Secretary of Commerce to establish accident investigation teams, who will bring us new understanding of highway accidents and their causes.
6. To make Government vehicles safer.-I have asked the Administrator of General Services, in cooperation with the Secretary of Commerce, to begin a detailed study of the additional vehicle safety features that should be added to the Federal fleet.
THE TRAFFIC SAFETY ACT OF 1966. More much more remains to be done. The people of America deserve an aggressive highway safety program.
I believe that the Congress—the same Congress which last year gave the Secretary of Commerce broad authority to set uniform standards for State highway safety programs—will join in our efforts to bring that program into being.
I urge the Congress tu enact the Traffic Safety Act of 1966.
The three components of this program are as critically important as the problems they address.
First, Federal grants to the States for highway safety will be increased.With these funds, a comprehensive highway safety program can be developed by each State under standards approved by the Secretary of Commerce. Included will be measures such as driver education and licensing, advanced traffic control techniques, regular vehicle safety inspections, and police and emergency medical services.
Second, automobile safety performance will be improved.-Proper design and engineering can make our cars safer. Vehicles sold in interstate commerce must be designed and equipped for maximum safety. Safe performance design standards must be met in tomorrow's cars.
I recommend that the Secretary of Commerce be given authority to determine the necessary safety performance criteria for all vehicles and their components.
If, after a 2-year period, the Socretary finds that adequato voluntary standards are not satisfactory, he would be authorized to prescribe nationwido mandatory safety standards. He would be also authorized to probibit the salo in interstate commerce of now vehicles and their components which failed to moot those standards.
Third, the Federal Governments highway safety research efforts will be expanded.
I recommend construction of a national highroay vafdy research and test center.
Funds are needed to support rosearch and testing in many disciplines related to highway safoty. Tho public interest domands a bottor understanding of the human, highway, and vehiclo factors which causo doath and injury. Wo must dovelop more effective countermeasures and objectivo standards to guido our national programs. Special accident toams should be organized, accurato data collection should be enlarged on a national basis, and fellowship grants and research support should be made available to attract the best minds and talents of our Nation to this urgent work.
This now highway safoty program would be transferred to the Socretary of Transportation upon the creation of the cow Dopartment.
Congress has not hesitated to establish rigorous safety standards for other means of transportation when circumstances demanded them.
Today's highway doath toll calls for an equally vigorous and effective expression of concern for our millions of car-owning families. For unless we avert this slaughter, one out of every two Americans will one day be killed or seriously injured on our highways.
SAFETY STANDARDS FOR MOTOR VEHICLE TIRES I urge the Congress to act speedily and favorably on S. 8669, a bill establishing safety standards for motor vehicle tires sold or shipped in interstate commerce.
Most tires sold to American drivers are produced and properly tested by reputable companies. Nevertheless, evidence has shown that increasing numbers of inferior tires are being sold to unwitting customers throughout the country. The dangers such tires hold for high-speed automobiles and their occupants is obvious.
S. 2669 provides that the Secretary of Commerce shall establish, and publish in the Federal Register, interim minimum safety standards for tires. The Secretary would be required to review these standards 2 years from the enactment of the bill, and to revise them where necessary. A research and development program under his direction would improve the minimum standards for now tires, and develop such standards for retreaded tires.
Our driving public deserves the prompt passage of S. 2669, and the protection it will afford them from accidents caused by tire failures.
SAFETY AT SEA Last year 90 men and women lost their lives when the cruise ship Yarmouth Castle burned and sank in the calm waters of the Caribbean.
The Yarmouth Castle was exempt from U.S. safety standards partially because of its "grandfather rights" under law. It was built before 1937.
We cannot allow the lives of our citizens to depend upon the year in which a ship was built.
The Coast Guard is presently completing its investigation of the Yarmouth Castle disaster. The Maritime Administration has already finished its investigation of financial responsibility.
Later in this session—when our inquiries are accomplished and our findings reported we will submit to the Congress, legislation to improve safety measures and guarantees of financial responsibility on the part of owners and operators of passenger-carrying vessels sailing from our ports.
AIR ACCIDENT COMPENSATION The United States has declared its intention to withdraw from the Warsaw Convention. Under this pact, the financial liability of a member nation's airline is limited to $8,300 for a passenger's death.
Discussions are underway in the International Civil Aviation Organization to increase this liability for passengers flying anywhere in the world. We have expressed our opinion that the limit of liability should be raised to $100,000.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT Today the United States ranks as the world's leader in technology.
Despite this—and despite the importance of transportation in the competition for international trade exclusive of national security and space, the Federal Government spends less than 1 percent of its total research and development budget for transportation.
Under our system of government, private enterprise bears the primary responsibility for reasearch and development in the transportation field.
But the Government can help. It can plan and fashion research and development for a total transportation system which is beyond the responsibility or capability of private industry. Through government-sponsored research and development we can
fully understand the complex relationships among the components of a total transportation system;
provide comprehensive and reliable data for both private and public decisions;
identify areas of transportation which can be exploited by private industry to provide safer and more efficient services to the public;
build the basis for a more efficient use of public resources;
provide the technological base needed to assure adequate domestic and international transportation in times of emergency;
help make significant advances in every phase of transport-in aircraft, in oceangoing ships, in swifter rail service, in safer vehicles.
SUPERSONIC TRANSPORT AIRCRAFT The United States is preeminent in the field of aircraft design and manufacture.
We intend to maintain that leadership.
As I said in my state of the Union message, I am proposing a program to construct and fight test a new 2,000-mile-per-hour supersonic aircraft. Our supersonic transport must be reliablo and safe for the passenger. It must be profitable for both the airlines and the manufacturers.
Its operating performance must be superior to any comparable aircraft.
It must be introduced into the market in a timely manner.
We have underway an intensive research and design program on the supersonic transport, supported by appropriations of $231 million.
The design competition for this aircraft and its engines is intense and resourceful.
I am requesting $200 million in fiscal year 1967 appropriations to initiate the prototype phase of the supersonic transport. My request includes funds for the completion of design competition, expanded economic and sonic boom studies, and the start of prototype construction.
We hope to conduct first flight tests of the supersonic transport by 1970, and to introduce it into commercial service by 1974.
The jet age has brought progress and prosperity to our air transportation system. Modern jets can carry Passengers and freight across a continent at speeds close to that of sound.
Yet this progress has created special problems of its own. Aircraft noise is a growing source of annoyance and concern to the thousands of citizens who live near many of our large airports. As more of our airports begin to accommodate jets and as the volume of air travel expands, the problem will take on added dimension.
There are no simple or swift solutions. But it is clear that we must embark now on a concerted effort to alleviate the problems of aircraft noise. To this end, I am today directing the President's science adviser to work with the Administrators of the Federal Aviation Agency and National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Secretaries of Commerce and of Housing and Urban Development, to frame an action program to attack this problem. I am asking this group to
study the development of noise standards and the compatible uses of land near airports;
consult with local communities and industry; and
recommend legislative or administrative actions needed to move ahead in this area.
ADVANCED OCEAN VESSEL CONCEPTS After years of U.S. leadership, Diaritime technology in other countries has caught up with and, in some instances, surpassed our own.
The U.S. merchant marine suffers in world competition because it bears much higher costs than its competitors. This can be offset in some measure by technological improvements.
The Department of Defense recently launched the fast deployment logistics ship program. This concept introduces to the maritime field the same systems approach that has proven so successful in other defense and aerospace programs.