Speed Limit 55: Is It Achievable?

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1977-02-14.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                                           .     - .



                                                   Is It

      Depatment of Transportation
      The national 55-mile-per-hour     speed limit law
      was established    to improve highway safety
      and fuel conservation.    It has been somewhat
      successful--average speeds have dropped about
      5 miles an hour, but many drivers are still

      The Department      of Transportation’s    efforts
      to increase State enforcement        of the speed
      limit are limited by

            --a reluctance      to interfere    with State re-

            --lack of criteria to evaluate State efforts
              in reducing speeds,

            --provisions of the law that have gener-
              ated State resentment     and could be
              counterproductive  if used, and

            --a lack of voluntary         observance   of the
              speed limit


                COMPTROLLER     GENERAL     OF      THE      UNITED   STATES
                              WASHINGTON.    D.C.         20548


To the President of the Senate and the
Speaker of the House of Representatives
     This repcrt describes the implementation of the 55-mile-per-hour
national speed limit law. Wemade this review to provide the Congress
with current information on Federal and State efforts to reduce
vehicle speeds and to identify factors inhibiting these efforts.
     Wemade our review pursuant to the Budget and Accounting Act of
1921 (31 U.S.C. 53), and the Accounting and Auditing Act of 1950
(31 U.S.C. 67).

      We are sending copies of this report to the Director, Office of
Managementand Budget; the Secretary of Transportation; interested
congressional ccmnittees; Membersof Congress; and other interested

                                            Ccmptroller General
                                            of the UnitedStates

DIGEST                                                    i

            Evolution of the 55 nph legislation
            Administrative responsibilities
            Scope of review
            Benefits achieved
                Safety improvements
                Fuel savings
            Voluntary cooperation                        10
            Enforcement                                  11
                General factors affecting enforcement    11
                Factors impeding uniform enforcement     13
            Conclusion                                   14

 4       FEDERALADMINISTRATIONOFTHELAW                    15
            Public information                            15
            Data required frcxnthe States                 18
                 Speed-mnitoring data                     18
                 Enforcement data                         19
            DOT's review of State certifications          20
            ~forcment    criteria                         21
            Possible use of the sanction                  22
            Conclusion                                    23

            Conclusions                                   25
            Reccxmendationsto the Secretary of
              Transpxtation                               28
            Agency cmnts                                  29
            Reccmmendationto the Congress                 29

       I   Bibliography of studies of the 55 wh
             speed limit effects                            30

  II       Discussion of DOT's authority to interpret
             or evaluate certification  data                34

 III       Department of TransportationcmneMs                41

   Iv      FederalE&rgyAdnkistration        cmts             45

       v   Principal officials    responsible for
             this report                                    47

           AmericanAssociationof    StateHighwayand
            Transportation Officials
           Departmznt of Transportation
           General Accounting Office
           General Motors
           mile per hour

   COMPTROLLERGENERAL'S                                              IS I'F
   REPORT TO THE CONGRESS                                         ACHIEVABLE?
                                              Department   of Transportation

              The national   55-mile-per-hour    speed limit   law
              was enacted as a conservation      measure after    the
              1973 Arab oil embargo.       However, when the
              public felt  the energy crisis     had abated,
              speeds increased --many drivers      now exceed the
              maximum speed limit.       (See pp. 5 and 6.)
              Although fuel has been saved and traffic
              fatalities      have been reduced, especially
              during the first       year when average speeds
              dropped about 5 miles per hour, more savings
              and driver      cooperation  were expected.     When
              the crisis      began, average speeds dropped,
              but they have been increasing        slightly   since
              then.      Drivers  have not complied with the
              limit     because they do not believe      the benefits
              are worth the inconveniences.
              State police have tried      to enforce the speed
              limit,     but due to the large number of speeders
              they can only issue tickets      to the most blatent
              violators.      Limited money and staff   and more
              pressing problems preclude any more emphasis
              on speed enforcement.       (See pp. 11 to 13.)
              To encourage drivers     to stay within   the speed'             -
              limit,   the Department of Transportation      began
              public information    campaigns.    The major one
              emphasized driving    the speed limit    because
               "it's the law."    This has had limited     success,
              and the Department is in the process of modi-
              fying the campaign.
               A broad public    information     campaign emphasizing
               the positive    benefits    of lower speeds possibly
               could convince more people to drive more slowly.
               However, it could be that nothing short of rigid
               traffic   enforcement    will  reduce speeding.

Tear Sheet. Upon removal,    the report   i                     CED-77-27
cover date should be noted   hereon.
Federal involvement      in State traffic   enforcement
 is a delicate    issue.    While the law specifically
requires    States to certify    to the Secretary     of
Transportation      that they are enforcing   the speed
limits,   States object to Federal involvement          in
what they consider a State function.
At the same time, the Secretary     of Transportation
must withhold    approval of all Federal-aid     highway
construction    projects  if a State fails   to estab-
lish a maximum 55-mile-per-hour      speed limit    or
to certify   that it is enforcing   the limit.
Although State officials  doubt this sanction will
ever be used, they resent its existance.     To use
the sanction  could be counterproductive  to the
basic intent  of the law.   (See pp. 22 and 23.)
GAO recommends that        the Secretary    of Transporta-
      --Establish  criteria     to evaluate what each
         State has done to reduce speeding or
         report to the Congress if such criteria
         cannot be established     without  intruding
         on State prerogatives.
      --Institute       a positive  public information
         program     emphasizing the continuing      need
          to drive    the speed limit     as a way to
          conserve    energy and improve safety.        This
         program     should be a cooperative     effort
         with the     individual   States.
The Secretary    believes more congressional   guidance
is needed before he can establish     enforcement
criteria.    Without it he believes   the Department
is virtually   powerless to achieve compliance with
the ST-mile-per-hour     speed limit.
The Secretary    plans to expand the Department's
public  information   program to incorporate  GAO's
The Congress should enact legislation    to enable
the Secretary  of Transportation   to implement a
program of variable   incentives or sanctions
that provide each State with maximum flexibility

               in reducing     driver     speeds.    The Congress      may
               wish to relate       these incentives       or sanctions      to
               highway   safety     grants,     law enforcement     grants,
               or the apportionment          formula   for highway     trust

               Factors     evaluated      in a variable         incentive       or
               sanction     program might        include      the State’s         estab-
               lished    maximum speed limits,             enforcement         prac-
               tices,    public     information       programs,       penalties
               imposed on speeders,           and the extent          to which the
               public    travels      at 55 miles       per hour.         This
               approach     would replace        the requirements            and
               sanctions      provided      by existing       law.      (See p. 29.)

Tear   Sheet
                                 -CHAPTER I,
       On October 29, 1973, the energy crisis               became a
national    reality     when the Arab nations         imposed an
embargo on all oil exports to the United States.
Although all petroleum users were affected,                 perhaps
the greatest       impact was felt     by the motoring public.
Gasoline stations        shortened their business hours,
which in turn forced many motorists               to wait in long
lines when the stations         were open.        In the flurry     of
executive    and congressional        actions     taken to cope with
the situation,       the national     55-mile-per-hour       (mph)
speed limit      law was passed.        Initially     enacted as a
temporary measure, it was later permanently                 established.
This report addresses various aspects of the law since
its enactment,       including    (1) a discussion       on the claimed
benefits,     (2) a presentation        of the problems inhibiting
full   compliance by the motoring public,              and (3) an
assessment of the adequacy of Federal efforts                  to
administer     the legislative       requirements.
EVOLUTION --1-----e
     The need to conserve energy was recognized    before
the embargo.   Efforts  undertaken to reduce highway
fuel consumption and promote safety through slower
speeds were as follows:
May 3, 1973                         An advertising    campaign with
                                    the slogan, "50 is thrifty,"
                                    was started    by a major oil
                                    company encouraging motorists
                                    to save fuel by driving
May 24, 1973                        The Secretary   of Transportation
                                    urged State Governors to
                                    reduce highway accidents
                                    and save gasoline   by
                                    reducing driving   speeds.
June 4, 1973                        The Senate adopted a resolution
                                    requesting    States to lower
                                    speed limits.
June 29, 1973                       President  Nixon requested
                                    State Governors to work
                                    with State legislatures    to
                                    reduce highway speeds.
       After the embargo beginning on October           29, 1973,    the
following    efforts were undertaken.
November 7, 1973                   The President   called on
                                   Governors to set maximum
                                   speed limits  of 50 mph.
November 7 through                 Seventeen States voluntarily
November 26, 1973                  lowered speed limits  to some
                                   extent and 12 more took some
                                   action toward reducing speed
January    2, 1974                 Emergency Highway Energy
                                   Conservation    Act 1/ was signed
                                   into law. It prohibited        the
                                   secretary    of Transportation
                                   from approving any Federal-aid
                                   highway projects     in any State
                                   having a maximum speed limit
                                   in excess of 55 mph.
March 3, 1974                      All 50 States had reduced
                                   maximum speed limits  to
                                   55 mph.
      After     the embargo was lifted    on April    29, 1974, efforts
January    4, 1975                 Federal-Aid      Highway Amendments
                                   of 1974 2/ signed into law.
                                   prohibits    the Secretary      of
                                   Transportation       from approving
                                   any Federal-aid        highway con-
                                   struction    projects      in any State
                                   that fails     to establish     a max-
                                   imum speed limit        of 55 mph or
                                   fails    to certify     enforcement
                                   of the 55 mph speed limit.
March 6, 1975                      The Department of Transportation
                                   (DOT) published preliminary    rules
                                   to implement the legislation.

L/Public      Law No. 93-239,   52, 87 Stat.    1046-1048.
/Public    Law No. 93-643, S$ 107, 114, 88 Stat.     2281, 2284,
   2286 (hereafter      referred to as the national 55 mph
   speed limit    law).
September     9, 1975                 Final rules published         in
                                      Federal Register.

January    1, 1976                    First  State certifications
                                      of enforcement    submitted for
                                      period ended September 30,
-----------------    RESPONSIBILITIES

         The administrative        responsibility       for the national
55 mph speed limit          law is divided        between the National
Highway Traffic        Safety Administration;           the Federal Highway
Administration;        and the Office       of the Secretary        of
Transportation,        Department of Transportation.              The Office
of the Secretary         develops public        information    programs,       the
Safety Administration            analyzes State enforcement          data, and
the Highway Administration             analyzes State speed-monitoring
information.         Both the Safety and Highway Administrations
use the information           the States submit in their          certifications
of enforcement.         This information          (see ch. 4) includes         (1)
copies of administrative            orders and policies,         (2) the number
of citations       issued for violation           of the 55 mph speed limit,
(3) a description         of the State's        speed-monitoring'program,
and (4) summary speed statistics                derived from the data
collected       in their monitoring       programs.
      We reviewed available       information      at DOT (Office   of the
Secretary,     Safety Administration      and Highway Administration).
In addition,     we met with law enforcement          and highway depart-
ment officials      in five States--California,         Louisiana,  New
Mexico, New York, and Texas.          We also discussed the imple-
mentation    of the 55 mph speed limit         with the respective
Highway Administration      regional     and district     offices  and
Safety Administration's      regional     offices.

                                    CHAPTER 2
      The national  55 mph speed limit  law has been in effect
for nearly 3 years.    In that time, several changes have
occurred on the Nation's    highways, such as
       --decrease    in the average         speeds,
       --increase   in the percent          of vehicles        traveling       at
           the same speeds,
       --decrease    in traffic      fatalities       and the fatality
      --decrease     in the number and severity             of accidents             .
         and injuries,
      --decrease     in fuel      consumption       in 1974,                             .

      --changes     in traffic      patterns       and driving      habits,
      --changes     in law enforcement            methods and techniques,
      --changes    in the amount and type             of monitoring           data
         collected   and in the techniques             for collecting
         such data.
The Safety Administration       cites safety benefits    as the
major accomplishment      under the law, especially    the dramatic
reduction   in fatalities     in 1974 and 1975.    The Federal
Energy Administration      emphasizes that the speed limit      law
is one of the largest      transportation   energy conservation
measures we have and that transportation         consumes over half
this country's    petroleum.
        Although the temporary speed limit          law was passed
primarily      to conserve fuel,     the permanent law recognized
both safety and fuel savings as benefits.                During congres-
sional consideration       of the permanent speed limit,          the
Safety Administration        estimated    that fatalities      in 1974 and
later     years would drop by 1,000 each month from base
year 1973 data.        The National     Safety Council (NSC) and the
American Association       of State Highway and Transportation
Officials      (AASHTO) attributed      about half the fatality
reduction      to slower and more uniform speeds.            The Federal

Energy Administration estimated  the fuel savings would be
between 100,000 and 200,000 barrels  of oil a day.
      According to the       Highway Administration,  speed-
monitoring   data must      be used with caution because speed
data submitted   by the      States are not strictly  comparable
among States or from        one period to the next within    States.
The reasons for this        include
      --changes and dif'ferences               in the monitoring        techniques
         in many States,
      --changes     in the number of States voluntarily
         submitting    data to DOT before 1975, and
      --differences       in time      periods        covered    by State     reports.
In addition,    the data are based primarily    on spot speed
studies and are not necessarily    representative    of actual
statewide    speeds.
      Recognizing the limitations          in reliability  of the
speed-monitoring       data, some general observations       can be made.
Between 1973 and 1974, average speeds on primary roads
decreased about 5 mph to just over 55 mph. Speeds on inter-
state highways during the same period decreased by about 7
mph to an average of about 58 mph. Speeds have been
increasing    slightly     in many areas since 1974.      Although all
five States we visited        did not follow the national      trend,
average speeds were as follows.         lJ

                              --1973        ---
                                            1974          --
                                                          1975       2;30;76
    California                                 57.0       56.5        54.8
    Louisiana                                   (a)       53.1        53.1
    New Mexico                64.7             57.2       58.9        57.0
    New York                   (a)             53.9       55.4        52.9
    Texas                     63.5             56.6       55.9        58.4
    National                  60.3             55.3       55.6         55.8
    a/Not     available

f/Based     on data   submitted     by the States.              (See p. 18.)

       In 1975, most States had average speeds over 55 mph.
On rural      interstate   highways, 14 States observed that at
least 75 percent of all vehicles         exceeded the 55 mph speed
limit.      In 15 States,     10 percent or more of the vehicles on
rural    interstates     were traveling  over 65 mph. The five
States we visited        showed:
                     Rural    Interstate      Highway Speeds in 1975
                                               Percent            Percent
                                           ---    55 mph      over
                                                              ---     65 mph
     California                                 80
     Louisiana                                  37
     New Mexico                                 72                  16
     New York                                   85                  17
     Texas                                      68                   7
     a/Not available
Safety      improvements
       The 55 mph speed limit has improved safety because
(1) the risk of death or serious injury     in an accident is
less at lower impact speeds and (2) traffic     flows at more
uniform speeds, reducing the chance of accidents.
        After  the national    speed limit     law was imposed,
fatalities     dropped dramatically.        In 1973, U.S. fatalities
were 55,096; in 1974 they dropped to 46,049--a              reduction  of
about 16 percent.       In   addition,   there   were  about   200,000
fewer injuries      in 1974 than in 1973.        Deaths and injuries
in 1975 and 1976 have remained significantly             lower than in
1973.      However, the lower speed limit        was only one factor
related     to the reduction     in deaths and injuries.        Others
         --fewer    miles    driven   because less     fuel    was available,
         --improved   driver habits and attitudes   brought about
            by the energy crisis   and various highway safety
         --better    law enforcement,         and
         --changes   in travel  patterns  (less night and weekend
            travel  when a higher percentage of fatalities
        We reviewed        over 30 studies             about improvements             in
highway      safety     since    1973, which tried               to identify        the
causes for reduced            fatailties          in 1974 (see app. I for
bibliography         of studies).            These studies         were sponsored
by Federal        and State      agencies        as well        as nongovernmental
organizations.           Although        all    studies       recognized      the safety
benefits      of lower speeds,             less than half          the studies
estimated       the degree of savings                attributable        to the 55 mph
speed limit.          These estimates            varied      widely.       The results
of three      studies      are presented            below showing        the variations
in factors        surrounding         the 1974 fatality            reduction.          These
studies     were done by AASHTO, NSC, and General                          Motors       (GM),
and all     three     calculated         about the same overall               fatality

                                                           ------------   of       savings

              --                                          AASHTO
                                                          --I-             NSC               GM
Reduced and/or          more uniform
   speeds                                                    48            46                35
Reduction       in travel                                    22            21                25
Reduction       in vehicle      occupancy                                  13
Reduction       in night     driving                                        8                24
Switch     in roads used                                                    4                 1
Switch     to weekday driving                                                                 5
Greater      use of safety        belts                                        4
Historical        trend                                                                 a/l4
Decrease      in safety      due to age
   of drivers,         use of small     cars,
   motorcycles,         and pedal cycles                                  ---4
      Total                                                                           -d/l00

a/Includes           better    roads,      better    cars,        and increased              use
    of safety         belts,

b/Includes            improved   driver       behavior,       daylight    savings                time,
    safety         belt   usage,  better       roads,      cars,    and traffic                programs.

c/Includes           better    cars,     roads,     and    law     enforcement.

d/Does       not     add due to        rounding.

        The additional     changes    in these and other      factors    in
1975 and 1976 make isolafing            the 1975 and 1976 savings
attributable      to the 55 mph speed limit         even more difficult.
In the 1977 appropriation          hearings,    the Secretary     of
Transportation       said:

       “We have found that no accurate                  estimate
       can be made on the overall              safety       impact
       of the 55-mile-per-hour             speed limit,         but
       there      should     be high confidence         that a
       large      portion      of the reduction       in
       fatalities         is due to the direct          or
       indirect        benefits     of the new 55-mile-
       per-hour        speed limit.”

Fuel   savings

      Like       safety,         other factors  have affected   fuel
consumption         since        the 55 mph speed limit    was established,
such as

       --a    switch        to    smaller,        more           economical         cars     in   1974;

       --reduced        availability              of       fuel      early     in    1974;

       --recent        increases         in   new car              fuel      economy;

       --improvements     in traffic                  flow due to               better
           highways   and improved                 urban traffic                control;

       --increased           use of      radial            ply     tires;

       --higher     fuel prices     which have                        increased   owners’
          attention      to improved    vehicle                       maintenance   and
          driving     habits.

      Early     in 1974 the Highway Administration           estimated
that   if all     vehicles    traveled      at 55 mph on the highways,
200,000    barrels      of fuel    could be saved a day.      This
amounts to about 3 percent              of the total  U.S. fuel
consumption       for highway      transportation.

       We reviewed      studies     of recent     fuel-use     reductions  by
organizations        in and out of Government           to find    out how
much fuel      savings    is attributable       to the 55 mph speed
limit.      These studies       generally     showed that theoretical
savings     could    be as high as the Highway Administration
estimate,      but actual     savings     were less.

      For example,     a study by Braddock,             Dunn and McDonald,
Inc.,   dated September       27, 1974, for the National               Science
Foundation,   calculated       that    if there      was strict       compliance
with  the 55 mph speed limit,            the theoretical         fuel    savings
would be 200,000      barrels     a day.        However,   after      examining
motor vehicle    gasoline      consumption        trends   and traffic
volume trends    during     the winter        of 1973 and the spring             of
1974, the study concluded           that    there was no actual            improve-

        The Mitre    Corporation      submitted     a May 1975 report       to
the National      Science     Foundation      which showed that      255,000
barrels    of fuel     a day were saved in 1974 from 1973 levels.
However,     according      to the report,      only about 71,000
barrels    could    possibly     be attributed      to the combined
effects    of the 55 mph speed limit            and more fuel-efficient

        In August   1975, the Safety    Administration       estimated
the savings     in fuel   based on gross gasoline        sales,    travel,
and speed data.       These estimates    attributed      a daily     fuel
savings    of between 82,000 and 126,000         barrels    (1.1 to 1.8
percent    of total   motor fuel   consumption)       to the 55 mph
speed limit.

       A Highway      Administration      study    released   in October   1976
estimated    that     reduced      speeds saved somewhere between        .8 and
2.9 percent     of    total    1975 highway     fuel   consumption.

        Since the Congress            passed the national         55 mph speed
limit     law, average         speeds have decreased          about 5 mph.
However,      many drivers,          particularly      on rural    interstate
highways,      are exceeding          the speed limit       and speeds are
increasing       slightly.         The impact       of the speed limit        on
safety      and fuel       conservation        cannot  be accurately       estimated,
but both have improved               due, in part,       to the lower speed
limit.       However,       the savings        appear to be less than initially
anticipated        partly      because not everyone         has complied        with
the speed limit.


                                     CHAPTER 3

                 COMPLIANCE WITH
                            --   THE 55 MPH SPEED --

       We believe       the widespread        use of speeds over the 55
mph speed limit         indicates     that the Nation’s         motorists    do
not think      that the fuel       savings      or the safety     benefits
of driving       slower    are worth the inconveniences.               This
lack of voluntary          compliance      places    a heavy burden
on State     law enforcement         agencies.       Although    enforcement
agencies     in the States        we visited      generally     have not
received    additional        manpower or resources,          they have
tried    a variety      of programs      to enforce       the speed limit.

       Increased        enforcement          nationwide      has resulted       in more
speeding     citations         issued,       but has not produced          overall
speed reductions            since      1974.      In view of States’         other
enforcement        priorities          and limited       resources,     additional
State    emphasis       on speed limit            enforcement      could adversly
affect    other     State      needs.        In addition,       some State      enforce-
ment agencies         believe        several      aspects    of the 55 mph speed
limit   have contributed               to the growing        disrespect      for laws
and law enforcement              officials.

       In addition     to these general           problems     in enforcing
the 55 mph speed limit,            other    factors     beyond the control
of law enforcement        agencies       restrict     speed enforcement
uniformity     among the States.            The differences       between
types    of highways,    traffic       densities,       enforcement     techni-
ques available,       and penalties         assessed     make uniform
nationwide     enforcement       impossible.


        Ideally,   drivers      would agree that the benefits        of
driving     at 55 mph exceed the costs and therefore,              would
obey the limit.         Failing     that,  drivers   would respect     the
55 mph limit      because it is the law.           However,  in view of
the widespread      use of speeds over 55 mph, it seems clear
that    voluntary   cooperation        has not been fully    successful.

        Historically,       speed limits     have been assigned       with a
high degree of voluntary           cooperation     built  in.    Speed limits
generally       were set at or about the 85th percentile              speed,
which is the speed that           85 percent     of the vehicles      meet or
travel     slower     than.   This is the speed the vast majority              of
drivers      chose as being reasonable         and safe,    recognizing      all

the conditions        existing     on each particular      segment of
roadway.       This method isolated         15 percent of the drivers
who traveled       faster    than what was generally        considered
reasonable and safe.            After allowing     for speedometer
error,     this small group of drivers          usually was issued
citations.       This method of establishing           speeds generally
was accepted by traffic            engineers,   motorists,    enforcement
agencies,      and the courts.
        In 1975, the 85th percentile          speed in most States was
over 60 mph and ran as'high as 68 mph. According to State
officials,       the public would not voluntarily         comply with the
speed limit        because many did not see the need.          Many
citizens,      they said, viewed the 1973-74 gas lines as a
conspiracy      by the oil companies to raise prices,            and now
that the prices are up, there is plenty of fuel.                  They
believe new technology          will satisfy     future  needs.    We
believe the public generally            does not perceive     the
benefits     in safety and fuel savings to be worth the extra
time spent on the roads.            State officials     concluded that
without     a significant      change in public attitudes        and
opinions,     drivers     will not further     reduce their     speeds

       In 1975 about half of the States reported     more drivers
 exceeding the 55 mph speed limit    than complying with it.
 This puts a much larger burden on enforcement     agencies than
 they had when speed limits    were set so that only 15 percent
 of drivers  exceeded the limits.    State enforcement    agencies
 said that too many drivers    exceed the speed limit   for them
 to enforce it effectively.
-m--w-    factors    affecting -- enforcement
       In four of the five States we surveyed,       resources
committed to enforcing      speed limits  have remained relatively
constant     in recent years.   Although enforcement     agencies
have requested additional      personnel and equipment,     State
legislatures     generally  have not provided   these funds.
       The Safety Administration   administers    traffic     enforce-
ment grants under the Highway Safety Act of 1966 (Public
Law 89-564) for State highway safety programs.            The
distribution    of the funds between traffic    enforcement       and
other highway safety activities     is established       by each
State on the basis of its own particular       needs.      Some of
these funds are used to enforce the 55 mph and other speed


limits    as part of police            traffic     services.     The Safety
Administration         estimates       that    roughly    25 percent   of its
enforcement      funding      to the States          is used to enforce     the
55 mph speed limit.             However,       Federal    funds represent
less than 1 percent           of about $2.5 billion            spent annually
for police     traffic       services.

        Given the limited        resources,       State   enforcement
agencies      have tried    various      speed enforcement         techniques,
such as disguising        their     cars,    cruising      in teams,     utilizing
sophisticated       new radar units,         and trying      other    techniques.
The result       has been an increase          in speeding      arrests       from
4 million      in 1973 to 6 million          in 1974 to over 7 million                in
1975.      In spite    of these efforts         more drivers       are violating
the 55 mph speed limit           than violated        previous     higher       speed

         State     enforcement          agencies       have many duties              in
addition       to enforcing           speed limits,          such as assisting               at
traffic      accidents,          quieting        local    disturbances,            apprehending
intoxicated         drivers,         assisting        stranded      motorists,          checking
for illegal         drugs,       and patrolling           high-accident            locations.
Since enforcement              resources         are limited,         increasing
emphasis       on one responsibility                  reduces     resources          available
for other        responsibilities.                Although       State     officials
recognize        the need for speed enforcement,                        they said that
some of their          other       responsibilities            require       a higher
priority       for their         limited       resources.

       For example,   State     officials        explained        that many of
the higher    speed roads,      particularly          interstate       highways,
have lower accident       rates     than secondary           roads.     They said
that one of their     high priority           efforts      is to patrol      where
the accidents     are happening,          which means patrolling            secondary
roads.    However,   State    officials         said that       if they emphasize
enforcement    on secondary       roads to combat accidents,                speeds
increase    on the interstate         and primary        highways.

        Oregon State           Police       l/ have analyzed     this   resource
allocation         problem       in some detail.        In terms of highway
emphasis,         Oregon State           Police  devote   about one-third        of
their     traffic       patrol       time to freeways,       but only 6 percent
of Oregon traffic              fatalities       are occurring      on freeways.
This leaves          the other         roadsl   on which 94 percent        of

1/%edid-not            review    Oregon’s program,     but have relied                       on
    statements         by the Oregon State      Police    Superintendent                      to
    the Safety         Administration.

fatalities          occur,    a proportionately      smaller     patrol    coverage.
In terms of traffic             enforcement     emphasis,      53 percent     of
total      traffic      arrests    have been for speeds over 55 mph.
However,         only 5 percent       of the driving      errors    in Oregon’s
fatal      accidents       have been attributed       to excessive        speed that
may or may not have been over 55 mph.

       Oregon State      Police     believe    that    spending     so much
time on the enforcement            of one law has affected           the
enforcement       of other    accident-causing        violations.          For
example p 20 percent         of the driving       errors     in Oregon’s
fatal    accidents     were for being on the wrong side of the
highway,     but this    violation       has received      proportionately
less emphasis       than speeds over 55 mph.

        The increased      use of citizens           band (CB) radios          and
radar detectors       has had an impact             on enforcement        in the
past few years,       according        to some State       officials.          They
said that evading        enforcement          has become a game and a
battle    of wits between the police                and the public.          In
addition,    many drivers         simply      have become accustomed             to
exceeding     the posted      limit.         Some State    officials        said
that the States       have been given            the responsibility          for
enforcing     an unpopular        law.       These factors       have
contributed      to a loss of morale             and prestige        among
enforcement      personnel      and to the growing           disrespect        for
laws and law enforcement             officials.

         According     to State enforcement      officials,          the impact   of
CB radios       is not all    bad.    They said that drivers             using CB
radios      are more aware of the locations            of enforcement
personnel       so that they can slow down before                being caught.
However,       because the word is spread that             the police       are
patrolling,        more drivers    slow down --which         is the intended
effect      of speed enforcement.         In addition,         they said CB
radios      are sometimes     used to report      accidents,         unsafe
drivers,       or other   trouble    on the highways.

Factors     impeding      uniform     enforcement

        Enforcement        is influenced       by factors    beyond the control
of enforcement         agencies.        Personnel     and equipment      provided
are good examples.            However,      other   factors   resulting       from State
legislatures,         courts,     or conditions       within  the States        in-
fluence       enforcement.        Among these factors        are (1) types of
highways,        (2) traffic      density,     (3) enforcement       techniques
available,        and (4) penalties         assessed.

         Differences      exist     among the    States’  highways         because    of
historical        development,       terrain,    and land use.

Some States      have newer roads with          few curves    over flat,
open terrain.        However,   others      have older    roads through
mountains.       Not only do these roads have different              “safe”
speeds,    but enforcement      possibilities       are different.       A
police    car can be concealed        on mountain      roads or in
congested     areas easier    than in flat,        open areas.

        Traffic     volume varies       considerably        among the States.
States     with many miles        of sparsely       traveled     roads indicate
that    it is less feasible          and less desirable         to assign    the
same number of police           to these roads as to roads in more
heavily      traveled    areas,     even when speeds may be equal.

       The techniques         available       to enforcement    agencies    vary
among the States.           While one State may mount a campaign
based on heavy use          of radar to enforce          speeds and/or     use
concealed    identity       police      cars,   another   State may be pre-
cluded    by law from       using either        radar or concealed      vehicles
for enforcement.

        Penalties      assessed    to speed violators        differ    among the
States.        Fines   for speed violations         range from a set fine
of $5 to a fine         of $1,000.        Some States    have point      systems
against      licensed     drivers    while   other States      do not.       One
State    allowed      some violators       to avoid penalties       entirely
by not following          up on violators       who skip their      court

        In addition,      many States     have variable      penalties,
including    both fines       and/or   points,     depending   on the
seriousness      of the offense.        Speed violations       within    5 or
10 mph of 55 mph are frequently              assigned    lower penalties
than offenses        at higher    speeds.
       The many variables    among the States    lead officials                     to
conclude   that what constitutes     effective   enforcement                   in   one
State may be ineffective      or impossible    in another.

        Drivers    have not complied          with the 55 mph speed limit
because they do not believe             the benefits        are worth the
inconveniences.          Because so many drivers            are violating         the
speed limit,       enforcement      agencies      must let many speeders
go by and just        issue tickets       to the most blatent          violators.
Limited     enforcement      resources      and other     State   enforcement
needs preclude        any long-term       additional      State   emphasis        on
speed enforcement.          Although      there    are difference        in speed
enforcement       among the States,         the differences       are often
beyond the control         of enforcement         agencies.

                  s-w                 ---
        To encourage voluntary    public compliance with the
speed limit,      the Department of Transportation     has recently
initiated    two public information       campaigns and States have
initiated    their   own campaigns.     In spite of these Federal
and State efforts,      many people still     appear unwilling  to
drive 55 mph or slower.
       The law gives the Secretary           of Transportation      the
responsibility        to withhold     approval of highway construction
projects     in States that do not establish          a 55 mph speed
limit    or fail    to certify     they are enforcing     the speed limit.
DOT has required        the States to supply speed-monitoring             and
enforcement      data as part of the certifications.             However,
the speed-monitoring          data is currently     not reliable      and
the enforcement data requested does not fully                describe
State enforcement         efforts.
       In reviewing       the first    State certifications     that were
due January 1, 1976, DOT concluded that the States had made
a good faith       effort    to meet the law's requirements.         However,
many State certification            packages did not contain all the
required data.          DOT has taken actions       to increase the amount
of data provided for the next certification,                due January 1,
1977.    However, it has not defined enforcement              or established
how much enforcement           or overall   speed compliance is sufficient
for certification.
       State officials    we talked with did not believe that the
sanction    (failure   to approve projects)   would be used.      Because
of legal and political      problems associated    with the sanction,
States said that if DOT attempted        to use the sanction,     they
would appeal to the courts or the Congress.           The sanction
threat   has caused State resentment and, if successfully           used,
could have an adverse impact on highway safety because safety
is enhanced by the construction       of new limited    access roads
and adequate maintenance of existing        roads.
      DOT recognized     in the early stages of the program that
widespread observance of the speed limit         depended less on
law enforcement    efforts    than on the public's   willingness   to
cooperate.    Now that there are no gas lines as a daily
reminder of fuel shortages,        DOT said Government must fall
back on public    information     campaigns to maintain    a sense of
public urgency about energy conservation.          DOT has promised

to do its    part to promote       public    understanding      through    a
nationwide    media campaign.

       The Office     of the Secretary      has been responsible     for
DOT’s two major public          information    campaigns.    One of these
campaigns      is the “Mr. 55” campaign.         The purpose   of “Mr. 55”
is to get support        for the 55 mph speed limit       from organiza-
tions    both in and out of Government.           “Mr. 55” started
speaking     to various     organizations    around the country    in
late April       1976 and has continued      to the present.

       The other   campaign   has involved      nationwide      advertising.
A contract    was issued with     the Advertising       Council     in
September   1975 --with    a $260,000    budget--to     develop     a public
information    program   to be distributed        to States     and the

      The slogan      developed      was, “Speed Limit        55.   It’s  not
just  a good idea.        It’s    the law.”       (See diagram    below.)
A DOT official      told    us that between April         and July 1976,
the message had been carried             by about     300 newspapers,
1,100 radio    stations,       and 400 television        stations     at no
charge to the Government.

        Several State officials       said that the benefits       of
driving    slower should be emphasized rather          than threatening
the public that they should comply because it is the law.
As one State official        put it,   "It is not sufficient       merely
to say that 'It's        the law.'    We all recall    that Prohibi-
tion also was once a law."           As of September 3, 1976, only
eight States had taken advantage of DOT's offer               of free
material     in quantities     for State distribution.        To obtain
better    acceptance of its public        information    campaign, DOT
has changed its slogan to "Speed Limit 55.               It's  a law we
can live with."
        A Safety Administration       official    told us that many
States have initiated      their own public         information
campaigns.      Ten States have ongoing campaigns involving
all media.      Other States have done less extensive           adverti-
sing to various degrees.          These State campaigns have
emphasized the benefits        (safety     and fuel conservation)      and
efforts    by the police to enforce the speed limit.              The
Safety Administration      has been helping the States communi-
cate with each other about their             ideas for public   informa-
tion programs.
       Some State enforcement    agency officials      said that the
Federal Government's     failure  to initiate     a timely public
information   campaign contributed     to the public's     lack of
concern for the need and benefits        of the 55 mph speed
      Studies have been done recently     on public attitudes
toward the 55 mph speed limit,   indicating    that most drivers
are aware of its safety and fuel conservation       benefits.
For example, a study by several agencies in the State of
Georgia showed the following   public recognition     of the
speed limit's  benefits:
      Benefit        of 55 mph speed limit
      ----------------a_                        Percent
                                                --------        agreed
            Saves lives                                    72
            Saves gas                                      70
            Reduces accidents                              68
However, speed monitoring   in Georgia showed the following
percentages of vehicles   exceeding the 55 mph speed limit:

                  Period                          Percent
                                                  --           exceeding
                                                               m----v------        55 mph

        Year ended g-30-75                                             62
        Quarter  ended 12-31-75                                        56
        Quarter  ended   3-31-76                                       66
        Quarter  ended   6-30-76                                       69

It appears  that speeding  is similar                       in a way to            smoking;
people  know it can be hazardous    to                    their  health,            but they
do it anyway.

              ----_I_ THE STATES
       The Secretary            of Transportation                 is not authorized            to
approve      any Federal-aid              highway       construction           projects      in
any State      that      fails      to establish           a maximum 55 mph speed
limit    or that       fails      to annually           certify        that    it is being
enforced.        DOT has issued              regulations            requiring       States     to
submit     data on speed monitoring                     and enforcement             in addi-
tion   to the certification                  statement          by the Governor           or his
representatives            and copies          of State         laws,     regulations,        or
administrative           orders       relating        to enforcement             of the 55 mph
speed limit.           According         to DOT, without               the information
required      by the regulations,                 the statutory             requirement       that
the State      certify         enforcement          of its speed limits                would
be so vague it would lack meaning.

Speed-monitoring            data

       Most States       had developed    some type of speed-monitoring
program    before     the 55 mph speed limit      law was enacted.       The
programs    consisted      primarily   of spot speed studies      conducted
at selected      locations     on main rural   roads.   In recent     years,
35 to 40 States         had been submitting    the speed-monitoring
data to DOT.

        DOT has required            the following           detailed           speed-monitoring
data    to be submitted            as part of the           annual          certification.

        1.    A description          of the State    program   for
              monitoring        speeds for the 12-month
              period     ending      on September    30 before
              the date by which certification               is
              required,       including     the number of
              stations      for each type of highway,          the
              basis     for determining        the number and
              location      of stations,       the frequency
              and duration         of operations,     and the
              total     sample size and basis         for sample

       2.    The summary statistics               derived      from             w
             the data obtained            from the monitoring
             program,       classif    ied according         to
             highway      type ( interstate          rural,
             interstate         urban,    other    multilane
             divided      rural      and urban,      major
             nondivided         rural,    etc .) , indicating
             the average          speed,    the median speed,
             the 85th percentile              speed,    and the
             percent      of motorists         exceeding       55,
             60, and 65 miles            per hour for the
             12-month       period     ending     on September      30
             before     the date by which certification
             is required.

In addition,       DOT has requested         quarterly     speed-monitoring
statistics      and the Highway Administration              has been
observing     the State      monitoring      efforts.      State   officials
we contacted       generally     indicated      that   the monitoring
requirements      did not cause an unreasonable               administrative
burden,    but some indicated           that   such requirements
generated     additional      paperwork      and increased       monitoring
efforts    and costs.

        In addition        to the Highway Administration’s                   reserva-
tions     regarding      the monitoring         data (see p.5),           we
noted some serious           questions       about the data’s            accuracy.
In two of the States            we visited,         the monitoring         vehicles
were not concealed           and could       appear to be police             cars.
Tests     have shown that with            the increased          use of CB radios
and radar detectors,            motorists       observe       suspicious-looking
vehicles       and slow down.         State     officials        agreed that
speeds obtained          under such conditions              may not be repre-
sentative       of typical      speeds traveled.              One State      further
reduced      the reliability        by combining           data from dissimilar
studies      and failing      to use weighted             averages     in reporting
statewide       speed-monitoring          results.

Enforcementa-w- data

       DOT has required           the   States     to   submit    the    following
enforcement   information:

       1.     The number of miles     of State   highways
              having   posted or allowable     speeds of
              55 miles   per hour.

      2.      The approximate    portion    of the mileage
              on which the State,has      patrol   responsi-
              bility,  including   portions     on which
              the State shares responsibility        with
              local law enforcement      agencies.
      3.      The State administrative   orders or
              instructions  regarding  enforcement
              agency policy on enforcement    of the
              55 mph limit.
      4.      The number of citations     issued by
              State agencies for violation      of the
              55 mph speed limit    during each month
              of the 12-month period ending on the
              September 30 before the date by which
              certification  is required.
      According to State officials,     however, this information
does not adequately describe     the full  extent of State
enforcement.    Additional factors   include
      --extent      of State        efforts  to publicize  ongoing
         police     activity        in an effort  to bring speeds
      --degree      of visibility        of patrol     activities,
      --extent      of use of written          and verbal      warnings,
      --the penalties      established   by State laws for speed
          violation    both in fines and possibilities    for
         dr iver ’ s license revocation,
      --the   practices  of the States’              courts    regarding
          speeding cases, and
      --the      need for   enforcement        on particular         highways.
      DOT considered  defining    enforcement   but rejected    the
idea as being “too intrusive      on State prerogatives.”       DOT
recognizes  that enforcing     speed limits   has been traditionally,
and remains, a State responsibility.
------                  a---
        There is no specific   language in the Federal-Aid
Highway Amendments of 1974 directing        the Secretary    of
Transportation    to review the sufficiency     of State
certifications    to determine whether the certification
accords with the State’s      actual enforcement   practices.
DOT believes      it has authority  to question and reject              the
State certifications      as discussed  in appendix II.
       The Highway and Safety Administrations            reviewed the
first   State certifications        that were due January 1, 1976,
and concluded that “the States have made a good faith
effort   to meet the requirements           of the law.”    However,
our review disclosed        that 36 State certifications        did not
contain all the required         information.      The missing infor-
mation involved virtually          all elements required      by the
regulations,     but all States submitted         more than half of
the elements.      DOT realized       before our review that some
information    was not supplied and said that some of the
problems resulted       from time constraints        imposed on the
States.      DOT has taken actions        to increase the amount of
data provided for the next certification              due January 1,
---       CRITERIA
       In the initial  March 1975 proposed rules,        DOT stated
that it would not specify      an acceptable     level of enforce-
ment or a minimum level of speed limit         observance.     However,
it suggested that a reasonable goal would be to increase
the level of public observance of the speed limit           to 70
percent in 1975, 80 percent in 1976, and 90 percent            in
1977 and subsequent years.        After receiving     comments from
the States,   DOT agreed that the goal was ambitious          and, as
many States pointed out, accomplishing         it would depend
less on law enforcement     efforts    than on the public’s
willingness   to cooperate.
       States must certify          that they are enforcing           the 55 mph
speed limit,     but there is no definition              of enforcing.
Enforcement can include any activities                 from simply a threat
of apprehension      to imposition         of a fine,      revocation    of a
driver I s license,     or imprisonment.           Police activity       could
range from one patrolman on one highway to one patrolman
following    every driver . Fines could range from one dollar
or less to a fortune.           The impact of a speeding violation
on the violator’s       driver’s       license could range from no
impact to an immediate revocation.                 The variety      of State
laws and existing       conditions        complicate     the situation.        In
our opinion,     defining     a sufficient        level of enforcement
would be an extremely         difficult       task at best.
       Although all States have certified      that they are
enforcing    speed limits,  none of the five we surveyed were
clear on the level of enforcement      required    for certifica-
tion.     They said that they are doing all they reasonably

can to keep speeds down, and feel that this must be
sufficient.      Most of the State officials     we talked
with insisted       that before DOT can say State enforcement
efforts     have not been sufficient,     DOT must publish
enforcement     criteria.     They believe that without    published
enforcement     criteria,    DOT has no basis for considering      any
action against the States.
      The law authorizes     the Secretary   of Transportation     to
withhold   approval of highway construction       projects   under
23 U.S.C. 106.     Section 106 project     approval is not
authorized   unless a State has established       a maximum speed
limit   of 55 mph and certifies    that it is being enforced.
      None of the five States we reviewed considered           the
sanction   to be a serious,   immediate threat.      In addition
to the lack of criteria     on which to base a decision        to
sanction,    the economic impact could be so severe that the
use of the sanction might be politically        unfeasible.       Some
states cited the increase     in unemployment that would result
from using the sanction.      Most said there would be an
almost immediate severe impact on State construction.
However, in one State we visited,      State officials      estimated
that with their    current  backlog of approved projects,         high-
way construction    could continue  for about 2 years.
        Although none of the five States we visited             questioned
DOT's basic authority       to withhold    project    approval,     there
has been some question regarding          DOT's authority       to use
speed and enforcement       data to question       the Governor's
certification     statement    that the State is enforcing          the
speed limits.       To obtain approval of Federal-aid           highway
projects,     the law requires     States to establish      speed limits
of 55 mph or less and to certify          that they are enforcing         the
speed limits.       However, the law has no specific         language
directing     DOT to request additional       data or to interpret        the
data for possible      use of the sanction.
        Officials       in most States said that they have not
officially        challenged   the sanction provision of the Federal
speed limit         law because DOT has not yet attempted to
sanction any State.           However, if the Federal sanction was
attempted,        they believe their States would appeal to the
courts or the Congress for relief.
       Some State officials    expressed resentment over the
threat   of Federal sanctions.      They said that the discussion
of sanctions    for lack of adequate enforcement     implies that
the States are not sufficiently       self-motivated  to enforce
speed laws.     It also implies,    they said, that the States
are not sufficiently     interested    in traffic safety or fuel
conservation.      State officials   were also concerned over
what they see as Federal intrusion        into speed enforcement,
which has always been regarded as a State function,
        Other State officials        resent DOT's unwillingness      to
take the Governor's      certification       statement  of enforcement
at face value.       One State official       said that any effort      to
request additional      information       or otherwise question    the
certification     statement     implies that the Governor would lie
in his statement.
      If somehow the sanction were used, it could have an
adverse impact on safety and fuel conservation.           In the
short term, some State officials         said, highway maintenance
would suffer.       In the long term, the loss of Federal funds
would mean fewer new limited        access roads, which are
inherently    safer,   would be built.      Fuel economy could,  in
our opinion,     be hurt because good economy depends on
smooth, even traffic       flow, which is provided by well-
maintained    limited    access roads.
       Some State highway department officials      said that the
sanction   is misdirected    because police rather   than highway.
departments    are responsible    for enforcement.   However, in
our opinion,    if it were possible    to reduce Federal funds to
enforcement    agencies,  the first   effort  cut might be enforce-
ment of the 55 mph speed limit.
       There have been several Federal efforts           to increase
voluntary    public compliance of the 55 mph speed limit,            but
since 1974 speeds have not decreased.            A broad DOT-funded
public information       campaign emphasizing the positive
benefits    of lower speeds could possibly         convince more
drivers   to voluntarily     reduce speeds.      It could be,
however, that nothing short of rigid          traffic    enforce-
ment will significantly        affect further    reduction    of
vehicle   speeds.
       Federal involvement     in State traffic     enforcement    is a
rather delicate     issue.    While the law specifically       requires
states   to certify    that they are enforcing      the speed limits,
States object to Federal involvement          in what they consider
a State function.        DOT has recognized     the problem by not
defining   enforcement     or specifying   an acceptable    level of
enforcement    or minimum level of speed observance.

        Although       it has not defined         enforcement,          DOT has
requested       the States     to submit       speed-monitoring           and
enforcement         data as part of the State             certifications          of
enforcement.           In our opinion,      the speed-monitoring               infor-
mation     currently       is not sufficiently          reliable        in all
States      for use in consideration            of Federal         sanctions      or
incentives.          Although    improvements        are being made, it will
be several        years before     reliable      data exists          that will
accurately        indicate    speed trends.
         The enforcement      data requested      as part of the State
certification        of enforcement    does not,       in our opinion,
provide       a complete   picture   of State     enforcement    efforts.
Many factors        other  than those requested          by DOT can
reflect       State  speed enforcement     efforts.

        The lack of enforcement          triter   ia and the severity        of
the sanction     provided      by law lead us to conclude          that    the
sanction    is virtually       an empty threat.         The threat    has,
however,    generated     State    resentment.       If the sanction       were
used,    it could have a negative            impact  on highway    safety
and fuel    conservation,       which is opposite        of the law’s

                              -       --

         The national   55 mph speed limit     law initially       was
enacted as a temporary measure during the Arab oil embargo
and was made permanent about a year later.              The permanent
law, enacted to reduce traffic       fatalities      and energy
consumption,       has been somewhat successful.        Both traffic
fatalities     and energy consumption have decreased;            however,
the decreases cannot be attributed          wholly to the
reduced speed limit.        Getting drivers      to comply with the
speed limit      is one way to achieve additional         benefits     in
both of these areas.        Although improvements in highway
safety and energy conservation       continue to be areas of
national     concern, the majority   of drivers      monitored      in
most States are exceeding the speed limit.
        Since the 55 mph law has been in effect,          State enforce-
ment agencies have issued many more speeding tickets              and
have attempted new, innovative         techniques    to catch speeders.
In spite of these efforts,       more than half the drivers        moni-
tored in the States we visited         exceed the 55 mph speed
limit,    although speed limits    historically      have been set so
that only 15 percent or less of the drivers             exceed the
posted limits.       Drivers probably exceed 55 mph because
they feel that there is no longer an energy crisis.               More
drivers     might obey the speed limit      if they accepted the
objectives     of the speed limit    law.     Successful   public  in-
formation     campaigns could be developed to improve public
acceptance of the law.
      Some public   information      campaigns have been initiated
at the national   and State levels.         Much of the Federal
campaign has been directed       toward emphasizing that "it's
the law" and therefore      should be obeyed.        However, this
approach has not been completely         successful,    and DOT is
in the process of modifying        the campaign.      The campaign
should be pitched     toward the positive,      beneficial    aspects
that each individual     driver    could accept and subscribe       to.

        There are two controversial    aspects of the Federal law
that need to be resolved before the law can be fully         effec-
tive:     (1) what specific  criteria    should be developed and
used to judge State enforcement       efforts  and (2) is the
penalty provided by the law, for all practicality,         an empty

         How much enforcement          is enough?       It is essential
that criteria        be established       so that     the States     can
evaluate      if their    efforts     are sufficient.         As it now stands,
the States        are required      to submit     data substantiating          that
the 55 mph speed limit            is being enforced.          However,      the
Secretary       of Transportation        has not established         specific
criteria      to determine       adequate     enforcement.       Therefore,       the
States      must speculate       whether    their    enforcement     efforts      are

         Establishing           Federal       enforcement        criteria        could have
an impact        on the States’             historic     role      in traffic        enforcement.
Any criteria          established           to evaluate         State     efforts     should
give States         flexibility           in getting        drivers       to reduce speeds,
including        such factors           as enforcement,            public      information
campaigns,        and penalties             imposed for speed violations.                     If
satisfactory          criteria       cannot be established                  without     intruding
on State       prerogatives,            the Department           of Transportation
should      take this         problem       to the Congress            considering        the
impact      that    the lack of criteria                may have on the practical
application         of any positive              or negative         incentives       provided
by law.        However,         we  believe        that  if     compliance-oriented
criteria       were established,               some of these problems                might be

        The law gives           the Secretary         of Transportation            authority
to withhold         approval       of all     Federal-aid       highway      projects        for
any State       that     fails     to establish         and post a 55 mph maximum
speed limit        or fails        to certify        enforcement       of the speed
limit.      This sanction            is the only legal          tool     the Secretary
has to encourage             States    to establi,sh         and enforce       a 55 mph
speed limit.           If the Secretary           were to impose the sanction,
it could      have an adverse            impact      on the highway         safety
objectives        of the law.          Without       Federal     funds,     State officials
said,    highway      maintenance         would suffer.           New limited         access
roads,     which are inherently               safer,     would either        be delayed
or not built         at all.         The loss of these funds would also
severely      affect       the State’s       construction          industry     and could
lead to increased              unemployment       and economic         depression.           The
States     believe       that these consequences               are so severe that             the
Secretary       would not impose the sanctions.

      Traffic     enforcement        always has been the right               and duty
of the States.         Since the States          are responsible         to enforce
the law, a strong         spirit     of cooperation         must exist       between
the States      and Federal        Government      before     an effective       program
is established       to achieve       widespread       public     acceptance      and
adherence     to what,     in practical        effect,      is a federally
imposed 55 mph speed limit.                Such a cooperative           environment
would be easier        to achieve       if the States         were not threatened
with  severe     sanctions       for failing       to enforce      State     speed laws.

                                               26           ’
       In      our   opinion     the       sanctions       are    so severe      that

       --if      they were       invoked it would impose                  extreme   hardship
              on the State       and be counterproductive                  to safety,

       --the   States          generally        regard      them    as an empty          threat,
       --they      interfere       with        achieving         a cooperative          State-
           Federal      relationship.

         There are alternatives            that would be less
objectionable         and perhaps more positive            and productive
than the severe          sanction     provided    by the current      law.     One
alternative       would be to drop this           penalty    clause   entirely
and rely      on voluntary        cooperation     by the States     and a
positive      public     information      program    emphasizing    the
continuing      need to conserve           energy and reduce highway
fatalities.          This was the case in November 1973 when the
need to conserve           energy was clearly        seen, and most States
voluntarily        reduced     their    speed limits      or took some action
in that direction           even before       the national     law was enacted.

        Another   alternative               would be variable           sanctions.               The
Secretary      of Transportation                could be given          the flexibility
to set a sanction         to fit            the needs of each           particular

        A third    alternative     would be a positive           incentive       to
the States      which do a particularly            good job of reducing
speeds or keeping          them low.      Positive      or negative      incentives
could be tied       to highway     safety     grants,     law enforcement
grants,     or the apportionment          formula     for highway      trust

        Each of these alternatives            has both advantages           and
disadvantages        from the present       sanction.        The primary
disadvantage       of all   three   is the risk        that    some States       may
cooperate     less in reducing        vehicle     speeds.       This risk       may be
greatest     with    the voluntary     cooperation        alternative.          The
degree of cooperation          under variable         sanction      or positive
incentives      probably    would depend on the amount of Federal
funds involved.

       Reliance       on voluntary        State   cooperation        may have the
greatest     risk,     but it also has some rather                attractive
advantages.         It could     reduce the paperwork             requirements      at
both State       and Federal       levels      in developing        and reviewing
the data required          for enforcement         certification.            It might

reduce the potential         impact    of the problems       with speed data
reliability       discussed   in chapters     2 and 4.       In addition,
it would improve         the State-Federal     cooperative        relationship
by eliminating        the Federal    club in traffic        enforcement,       an
area which has historically            been a State      responsibility.
Reliance     on voluntary     cooperation    could also reduce the
need for the Secretary          to establish    criteria       which are
necessary      for any system of Federal        incentives        or

        The variable         sanction       alternative       has the advantage          of
being a realistic            threat     as compared to the empty threat                  of
the present        sanction.         The sanction        could be tailored          to fit
each situation.            However,       the fact that         it would still        be a
Federal     threat      may do little          to improve      the State-Federal
cooperative        relationship.            A variable      sanction       system also
has the same disadvantage                 of the present          sanction      in being
potentially        counterproductive             to safety      if used.       In
addition,       it would rely          on the speed-monitoring              data
which are (1) time consuming                   to develop      and review,        and
(2) not currently            reliable.         Federal    criteria       would be
needed before         this    alternative          could  be implemented.

        The alternative         of Federal      incentives       wou,ld, in our
opinion,      improve     the cooperative         State-Federal        relationship.
It would also provide             funds to the States          who could
(depending        on the requirements         of law) use the funds to
improve     traffic     enforcement,       expand other         State programs,
or reduce State         taxes     and/or   debt.      This alternative          has
the disadvantage          of requiring       additional      Federal      funds
which means reductions              in other   Federal     programs       or
increases       in Federal      taxes and/or       debt.     This alternative,
like    the penalty       alternative,       would rely      on speed-
monitoring        data and would,        in our opinion,         require
Federal    criteria.

        We recommend that             the Secretary        of Transportation
establish       criteria       to evaluate        if speed reduction          efforts
taken by the individual                 States    are sufficient        or report
to the Congress            if such criteria           cannot  be established
without     intruding        on State       prerogatives.        We also recommend
that    the Secretary          institute       a widespread,       positive      public
information         program emphasizing             the continuing        need in terms
of energy conservation                and safety       for a national        speed
limit.      This program          should      be a cooperative       effort      with
the individual           States.

      The Secretary   of Transportation      generally  concurs with
the findings   and recommendations      of this report.     (See
wp -  III.)
         The Secretary     stated DOT has attempted        to define
enforcement     through the establishment        of enforcement
criteria     but found this to be a difficult,           if not impossible,
task.      The Secretary      believes   that additional     congressional
guidance is needed to define enforcement.                In the absence of
congressional      action,      DOT believes  it is virtually
powerless to fulfill          the congressional    mandate to achieve
compliance with the 55 mph speed limit.
        The Secretary  plans to expand DOT's public  information
efforts    to foster  voluntary  driver compliance.  These
efforts    are to include involvement   of State and local
governments and other groups.
      The Administrator  of the Federal Energy Administration
concurs with our recommendation that criteria       should be
developed to evaluate State enforcement    efforts.      (See app.
IV.)   The Administrator  also endorses our recommendation
for a public information   program, as such' a program is crucial
to achieving  voluntary  compliance with the 55 mph speed limit
             TO THE CONGRESS
      We recommend that the Congress enact legislation               to
enable the Secretary      of Transportation       to implement a pro-
gram of variable     incentives    or sanctions     that provide each
State with maximum flexibility         in reducing driver       speeds.
The Congress may wish to relate          these incentives     or sanc-
tions to highway safety grants,          law enforcement     grants,
or the apportionment      formula for highway trust        funds.
This approach would replace those provisions             of existing
law that prohibit      the Secretary     from approving Federal-aid
highway construction      projects   in any State that either          has
a maximum speed limit       in excess of 55 mph or fails         to
annually certify     that the speed limit       is being enforced.
      Factors evaluated   in a variable     incentive     or sanction
program might include the State's       established      maximum
speed limits,  enforcement   practices,     public    information
programs, penalties    imposed on speeders,'and        the extent
to which the public travels     at 55 mph. In our opinion,
this type program would encourage greater          acceptance
and assistance   by the States in reducing speeds.

APPmDIxI                                                      APPENDIX1

American Associatim of State Higlmay and Tmnsportation Officials.
"Effects of the 55 MPHSpeed Limit," Novertber 1974.
Adams, Herb L. "Catch 55: The National SpeedLimit,"    Motor Trend,
April 1975, pp. 33-36.
Bishop, H., Page, J., Jarema, F. and Breedon, David B. "Higlway Vehicle
speeds 1973-1974," U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway
AdministrationandNationalHighwayTraffic     SafetyAdministration,
-         1974.
Borg, Tim M. "Evaluation of the 55 MPHSpeedLimit," Final Report,
Joint Highway Research Project (JHRP-75-6): Purdue University, West
Lafayette, Indiana and Indiana State Highway Ccmnission, March 26, 1975.
Braddock, Dunn andMcUonald, Inc. "Impact Considerations of the
National 55MPH Spwd Limit (Background)," Inte.rimBprt,   Septmber 27,
Burritt, Benjamin E., whrabi,    A. and Matthias, Judson S. "An Analysis
of the l?elatiorwhipS Between Accidents mdthe 55 MPH-wed-t
ontheArimnaHighway~stem,"        ArizonaUepartmentof Transportationand
Arizona State University, July 1975.
California Highway Patrol.  "Accident ChangesUnder Energy Crisis,"
Presented by Walter Pudimki, mssioner,     July 1974.
Campbell, K., Scott, R. and To&in, S. Y-IighwaySafety Effects of the
Dxargy Crisis on U.S. Toll Roads," Highway Safety Research Institute,
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich., Contract IXYTHS-4-00980,
June 1976.
Castle III, Gilbert H. "The 55 MPHSpeedLimit: A Cost/Benefit
Analysis," Traffic Engineering, January 1976, pp. 11-14.
Cerrelli, Ezio C. "Effect of Speed Limits on Fuel Econmy and Safety,"
U.S. Deparlment of Transportation, Natimal Highway Traffic Safety
A&ninistration, August 13, 1974.
Cerrelli, Ezio C. "The Effect of the Fuel Shortage on Travel and
Highway Safety, w U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration, Report No. DOTHS-801715, August 1975.

APPENDIX1                                                         APPENDIX1

Colorado State Deparmt   of Highways. "A Study of the Effects of the
55 MPHSpeed Limit," October 2, 1974.
Council, Forrest M. and Waller, Patricia F. "Hm Will the Energy @isis
Affect Highway Safety," Traffic Safety, vol. 74, no. 4, April 1974,
pp. 12-14 and 39-40.
Council, Forrest M., Pitts, Linda, Sadof, Michael and Dart, Olin K.
"An Examination of the Effects of the 55 MPHSpeedLimit on North
Carolina Accidents," Hig3-rwaySafe'cyResearchCenter,Universityof
North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C., April 1975.
mustun, Nejad, Hornbeck, Dwight A., Lingemn, Stanley D. and Yang,
Arthur H. "Safety Aspects of the 55 MPHSpeedLimit," Michigan
Department of StateHighmys andTmnsportation,   Lansing,Mich.,
Report TSD-295-74.
Federal E%rgy Office.   "Federal Energy Peduction Progrm-+X1974,"           .
Third Quarterly Report (January-March 19741, Washington, D.C.,
June 1974.
French, A. and Bishop, H. "Analysis of Fuel Saving through Reduced
speed Limits,"  U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway
Administration, Revised April 16, 1974.
General Motors Corporation, Carpenter, J.F. "Traffic Fatalities and the
mergy Crisis--Four Month Analysis, Jan.-Apr. 1974," General mtors
TechnicalCenter,warr~,Mich.,     Hhvironmntal Activities Publication
No. A-3176, Novex&er 20, 1974.
Geurts, c. Arthur.   "55 MPH, 1692 Witch Hunt in 1976," Western ITH,
Official Publication of the Western District,  Institute of Traffic
Engineers, January-February 1976, vol. 30, no. 2.
Colcxnb,D. Henry andO'Day,James.        "An AID Analysis of Texas Traffic
Accident Data Before and During the Energy Crisis," Highway Safety
l&search Institute,UniversityofMichigan,AnnArbor,          Mich.,HITLAB
F&ports, vol 5, no. 7, Contract DX-HS-4-00937, March 1975.
Jennrich, JohuH. "Accident Study Raises Questions on 55 MPHNational
Speed Limit," Highway Users Federatim for Safety and Mobility,
Washington, D.C., August 7, 1974.
Jennrich,JohnH.    "Traffic Engineers westion Safety Effects of 55 MPH
Law, Cite Impact of Travel, Driving Patterns, Pedestrians and Speed,'
Highway Users Federation for Safety and Mobility, Washington, D.C.,
November4, 1974.

APPENDIX1                                                     APkmxxI
Jennrich,JohnH.    "Is the 55 MPHSpeed Limit Working?," Highway Users
Federation for Safety and bbbility, Washington, D.C., Cctober 8, 1975.
Kahane, Charles J. "ImerSpeedLimi.ts,ReducedSpeeds,FewxDeaths,
January-April 1974," DOTHS-801 667, August 1975.
Klein, Terry M., Levy, Paul and V&s, Rebert B. "Effect of the Fuel
Crisis and the 55 MPHLimit on Fatalities in Utah," U.S. Department of
T?xnsportation, National Highway Traffic Safety A&ninistration, IXYI'
HS-801 854, FeJxuary 1976.
Kneppes, Mike. "The 55 MPHLimit--Is    It worth Keeping?," Road and
Track, Cctober 1974, ppe 74-80.
TheMitreCorporationandThe    BDMCoqmratim.     "PolicyAssessmxkof
the 55 Miles Per Hour SpeedLimit," prepared for National Science
Foundation, Contract No. NSF-C925, May 1975.
National Safety Council. "Factors Cmtributing to the Reduction of
MYzor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities (January-April 1974 vs January-
April 1973)," October 1974.
National Safety Council. "Factors Contributing to the Reduction of
bbtor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities (May-August 1974 vs May-August 1973),"
March 1975.
O'Day, Jams, Minahan, Daniel J. and Golcanb,Dan H. YCheEffects of the
Energy Crisis and 55MPHSpeedLimitinMichigan,"            Highway Safety
Research Institute,universityofMichi~,AnnArbor,Mich.,HITIlIB
Repo?=ts,ml. 5, no. 11, July 1975.
Page, W. Johnson, French, Alexander and Ullmn, Joseph E. "Estimated
Higlway Fuel Savings in 1975," U.S. Depa&wntofTransportation,
Fed-al Highway Administration, presented at the Governor's Conference
on Highway Safety, Ibver, Del., Cctober 7, 1976.
Phillips, Charles. "An Estimation of National Fuel Savings frm
Fractional CQnpliance with the 55 MPHSpeedtit,"    U.S. Department of
Transportation, Transportation Systems Center, Cambridge, Mass.,
DE?odxr 1974.
Pollard, John, Hiatt, David and Rubin, David. "A Summry of
Tmnsportaticn, Transportation Systems Center, Cambridge, Mass., Rep&t
No. DYT-TSC-OST-75-22(Final), Revised August 1975.
Rankin, wocxlmww.   "55 MPH--WhatHappenedto Speed, Travel, Accidents
and Fuel when the Nation's Motorists Slwed Dmn," Highway User Quarterly
--Fall 1974, pp. 11-17.
APPENDIX1                                                        APPENDIX1

Rankin, W.W. "An~gineer'sViewsanProandcOnAspectsof           the 55MPH
speed Limit," Highway Users Federation,Washington, D.C.,presentedto
the National Safety Congress, Chicago, Ill., September 29, 1975.

Rapp, Md=       "A Critique of the Nationwide 55 MPHSpeedLimit,"
Ehergy Sources, vol.   2, no. 4, 1976, pp. 377-396.

Seila, AndrewF. andReinfurt,DonaldW.      "TheEffectsof   them&i
MaximumSpeedLimitandFuel ShortageonHighway Safety inNorth
Carolina, " InterimFteport,Highway SafetyResearchCenter,University
of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C., Contract DYT-E-4-00897 (SYO851,
March 1975.
Sievers, John N. 'The 55 MPHSpeed                              and
c&3inions," Final Report, 55MPHSurveyResults, Bureau of Business and
Econmic Research, Institute for Applied Research Services, University
of New Mexico, Albquwe,     N.M., February 16, 1976.
U.S. Department of Transportation.    "The National Highway Safety Needs
Report," April 1976.
U.S. Department of Tmnsport&ion and U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency. "Study of Potential for &kor Vehicle Fuel Hconany Imprwe-
l-new," Safety B@ications Panel Report, January 10, 1975.
U.S. Deparhnentof~~~tion,TransportatianSystenns           Center.
"Traffic Safety and the Fuel Crisis," Transportation Safety Ddormation
F&eport,Octik-December1974    Quarterly Highlights and1974 Safety
LSXmnaq(Revised), pp. 39-42.
Utah Dt         of Transportation. "A Statistical   Analysis of the
Effect of the55MPHMaxmmSpeedLimitonHighway           Safety inUtah,'
Septeaker 1975.
Yarbrough, Charles. "Verdict on Effect of 55 MPHLimit,"    The
Washington Star, Washington, D.C., Ikwe&er 21, 1975.
Zerega, Anne Marie. "An Cmrview of the Energy Safety and Enforcment
Aspects of the 55 MPHSpeedLimit," Federal Energy Administration,
FEA/D-76/188, April 1976.


APPENDIX         II                                                   APPENDIX    II

                                 WASHINGTON,   D.C.   20590


                                                              July 28, 1976

 Mr. Henry Eschwege
 Community and Economic
   Development Division
 United States General
   Accounting Office
 Washington, D. C. 20548
 Dear Mr. Eschwege:
 This is in reply to your letter of June 7, 1976, to Secretary Coleman
 concerning this Department's authority to question a State's certification
 pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 141 that it is enforcing the 55 mph national maxi-
 mum speed limit.     You note that in the development of the Federal-Aid
 Highway Amendments of 1974, the Senate version of section 141 had been
 limited to certification     of vehicle weight and size limitations    and had
 provided that such certifications      be "satisfactory"  to the Secretary.   In
 light of the omission of "satisfactory"       from the conference bill in which
 the speed limit certification     was combined with the weights and sizes
 certification,   you have asked for our views on the authority conferred on
 the Department by 23 U.S.C. 141.
 Before issuing the regulations at 23 C.F.R. Part 658, which reflect our
 conclusion that the Department has the authority to question and reject
 a State's certification,   we examined the intent of Congress in enacting
 23 U.S.C. 141. It is the view of our General Counsel that a narrow inter-
 pretation of the section, under which the Department could not question a
 certification,   would give considerably less force to the apparent Con-
 gressional intent regarding the speed limit than the interpretation
 reflected in Part 658.
  The narrow construction of section 141 would place primary reliance upon
  the conference committee's failure to adopt the words "satisfactory    to
  him" that appeared in the certification  of the Senate bill.   Such a con-
  struction would make two important assumptions about these words. First,
 .it would assume that the presence of these words added substantially     to
  the scope of the authority of the Secretary under the Senate certification
  provision.   Second, it would assume that the nonadoption of the words was

APPENDIX    II                                                         APPENDIX     II

in fact a "rejection"   of the words for substantive reasons. We agree
that both of these assumptions are plausible.     We believe, however, that
nothing in the statute or its history compels their adoption.     Indeed,
considering the legislative   purpose underlying section 141, discussed
below, we do not feel constrained to adopt either assumption.
With respect to the first assumption, we believe that it is equally
plausible that the conferees may have simply determined that the words
"satisfactory     to him" were superfluous.     In our experience, the deletion
by conferees of superfluous language is not an uncommonevent. Such
sections are regarded as technical and are rarely explained in conference
reports.      This may be the reason why the deletion of "satisfactory        to him"
is not discussed anywhere in the legislative        history.    Section 141 does
not expressly provide the Department with authority to question a certi-
fication or to require substantiation       of a certification.      The explanation
for this may be that the conferees and their staff were aware of the
operation of other certification      provisions and deemed the idea that the
certification     be acceptable to the administering agency so fundamental
and understood that the words "satisfactory        to him" were superfluous.
One purpose of a certification        is to provide the receiver with assurance
that particular      facts exist, e.g., compliance with a standard (15 U.S.C.
1403), or the development of a proper technical services program (15 U.S.C.
1355). One statute (15 U.S.C. 1355) expressly provides the administering
agency with authority to obtain information to verify the accuracy of a
certification     prior to granting program approval, while another (15 U.S.C.
1403) authorizes the agency to obtain the information relied upon by the
certifier     in making his certification     and/or to conduct subsequent investi-
gations and to seek sanctions against persons who falsely or incorrectly
certified.      In all of these instances, it is the certifier,        not the
recipient of the certification,         who is bound by the certification.     To
the extent that section 141 is interpreted as binding the Secretary and
foreclosing his inquiry, that certification         is unlike the other certifi-
cation provisions we have found. This possibility           is strengthened by the
conferees' certain knowledge of 23 U.S.C. 315 which authorizes the
Secretary to make all needful rules and regulations.           The conferees could
have reasonably decided that section 315 authorized the Secretary, as a
part of the certification        process, to obtain the information necessary to
determine that the States are actually enforcing the national speed limit.
If "satisfactory   to him" was deleted because the conferees regarded it as
conferring additional and undesirable authority upon the Secretary, the
failure to explain the deletion to ensure that the Secretary is not deemed
to have such authority is truly remarkable. Surely, if the effect of the
conferees' action were to reject a strong enforcement scheme in favor of
a window-dressing enforcement scheme, such momentous action would have
occasioned some comment to that effect at some point in the conference
report of consideration thereof by the two houses. Yet, we are unable
to find any such comment.

APPENDIX     II                                                          APPEkDIX     II

It might be argued that the statements during the floor debates by several
of the House conferees support the narrow interpretation  of section 141
since the statements speak only of State certification.   In initially   sum-
marizing the conference committee actions, Jim Wright, the floor manager,
described section 141 as a provision that would require State certification
of enforcement of the 55 mph speed limit.   (120 Cong.Rec. H 1227O(daily
ed. Dec. 18, 1975)) James Cleveland spoke at one point in a similar vein.
(120 Cong. Rec. H 12271 (daily ed. Dec. 18, 1975))

We do not believe that these statements furnish any support for the narrow
interpretation.      They appear to be no more than the usual statements made
during floor consideration of any bill,     i.e., mere paraphrases of the
statutory language. They are not interpretive      and are therefore not
particularly    relevant to the present inquiry.
Although we do not believe that the legislative         history supports the narrow
interpretation,     we recognize that the enforcement of speed limits has
been traditionally--and     remains--a State responsibility.         The certification
requirement undoubtedly reflects Congressional appreciation for State
primacy in the fulfillment      of that responsibility.      Certification     represents
a minimum degree of oversight and a maximum degree of trust; however, this
does not compel the conclusion that a State certification            must be blindly
accepted by the Secretary when the information contained therein does not
support the State's claim, nor is the Secretary precluded from requiring
information as an integral part of the certification          process.
While there are no statements that support the narrow interpretation,         there
are statements, in the conference report and by each of the five House con-
ferees and by the Senate floor manager during floor debates, that do support
the broad interpretation.    The conference report characterizes the action
of the conferees regarding the House and Senate certification     provisions
as simply involving the combination of the two provisions.      (p. 20) There
is no suggestion, in the report or elsewhere, that the conferees had chosen
a weak provision over a strong one. There is not even any mention in the
report or elsewhere of the dropping of the allegedly significant       words
"satisfactory   to him." This contrasts sharply with the descriptions in
the report of the conferees' action on other provisions in the House and
Senate bills.    In numerous instances, the descriptions expressly mention
specific additions, deletions, and modifications.      The absence of any
mention of the deletion of the words regarding satisfactory     certifications
suggests that the conferees did not think that the nonadoption of such
language was of any significance.     If they had regarded the language in
the same-manner as the language is regarded under the narrow interpretation,
the deletion would surely have been mentioned.
We would argue therefore that the conferees made no significant     change in
the scope of the certification    provisions. As your letter suggests, the
authority of the Secretary to question the certifications    was clearly in
the Senate version.    The conferees may well have thought that it was implicit
in the House version.

APPENDIX     II                                                      APPENDIX    II

There are other statements by the House conferees that more directly sup-
port the broad interpretation       of section 141. Representative Wright, who
initially     merely paraphrased section 141, subsequently spoke of the section
as containing a requirement that the States "must apply . . . [the] speed
limit in order to qualify for Federal funds."          (120 Cong. Rec. H 12275,
 (daily ed. Dec. 18, 1975)) This statement clearly goes well beyond the
narrow interpretation      which argues that there is no requirement for State
enforcement, but merely a requirement for State certification         irrespective
of the underlying facts.       Mr. Wright suggests, contrary to the narrow
interpretation,     at least that the underlying facts must support a State's
certification.      This requirement creates the possibility     of acceptable
and unacceptable certifications.         If the underlying facts do not support
a certification,     i.e., if a State is not applying the speed limit,      then
that State's certmcation         is unacceptable and its Federal-aid highway
funds must be terminated.        If the Secretary is to be able to distinguish
between acceptable and unacceptable certifications,         he must have knowledge
of the underlying facts.        Clearly, a regulation that requires substantiation
as a part of a State's certification        is, in the parlance of 23 U.S.C. 315,
Indeed, Wright's statement further suggests that the Secretary may not
only ensure the accuracy of certifications,  but he may also make the suf-
ficiency of the State enforcement efforts a consideration in his accepting
certifications.  Only in this manner can a State actually be required, as
Wright states, to enforce the 55 mph speed limit.
Like the floor manager, conferee Cleveland went beyond his paraphrasing
of section 141. He characterized the section as "putting teeth in" the
55 mph speed limit program. (120 Cong. Rec. H 12271 (daily ed. Dec. 18,
1975)) Since section 141 is toothless under the narrow interpretation,
it appears that Harsha did not view section 141 narrowly.   See also the
statement of conferee John Rlucynski that enforcement of the speed limit
is to be emphasized henceforth.   (120 Cong. Rec. H 12272 (daily ed. Dec.
18, 1975)) Harsha went on to say that, under section 141, the "States
will confront the real prospect of finding themselves deprived of project
approvals if unable to certify compliance."
The statements of the remaining two conferees also support our view that
section 141 requires more than simply an unsubstantiated statement that
the law is being enforced. Harold Johnson stated that "the speed limit
must be adequately enforced; and the conference report requires that it be
enforced."    (120 Gong. Rec. H 12274 (daily ed. Dec. 18, 1975)) The state-
ments of William Harsha, the ranking Republican conferee, are strongest of
all.   The statements occur in a colloquy with the floor manager. Mr. Wright
asked Mr. Harsha,
                           Is it not true that for the first
                           time-for the first time-in this
                           legislation,  we have said to the

APPENDIX        II                                                                     APPENDIX        II

                                     States    that they must enforce
                                     their   extant   weight requirements
                                     and restrictions       in order to
                                     qualify     for Federal   aid?  (120
                                     Cong. Rec. H 12273 (daily       ed.
                                     Dec. 18, 1975))

   Mr. Harsha        responded,

                                     There is not any question            about
                                     the truth of what the gentleman
                                     says.     In other words, if they do
                                     not strictly        enforce    their  rules
                                     as to speed and as to maximum
                                     weight    limitations,       they would
                                     get no Federal         aid for their
                                     highways.        (Emphasis added.)
                                     (120 Cong. Rec. H 12273 (daily
                                     ed. Dec. 18, 1975))

   It bears noting  at this point    that these expansive    statements      were made
   by the House conferees,    the conferees    who are supposed,     under the narrow
   interpretation,  to have engineered      the nonadoption  of "satisfactory      to
   him" in order to limit   the reach of the certification        provision.

   It may be argued that the foregoing                   discussion       does not resolve       the
   question     of the extent       of the Secretary's            authority       under section     141,
   but serves only to establish               that the conferees'            action was genuinely
   ambiguous.       In that event,         it is useful        and in accordance        with recognized
   practices      of statutory      interpretation          (Sutherland,        pp. 54-55, vol.      2A) in
   cases of unresolved          ambiguity       to determine       the legislative        purpose under-
   lying     the provision      in question        and to consider          how that purpose is served
   by the various        reasonable      interpretations         of that provision.

   Sutherland        provides,

                                     A statute  is to be construed       with
                                     reference  to its manifest      object,
                                     and if the language      is susceptible
                                     of two constructions,       one which will
                                     carry out and the other defeat          such
                                     manifest  object,     it should receive
                                     the former construction.        (P. 57,
                                     vol. 2A)

  Such object,    must, of course,        be clear and manifest.       We believe  that,     on
  a broad level     at least,      the object   of sections     141 and 154 is clear     and
  manifest.     Section    154 alone, which requires         each State to have a 55 mph
  speed limit,     clearly    implies   that the Congress intends        that each State
  shall    have and enforce     such a speed limit.         Section  154's complementary

APPENDIX         II                                                                               APPENDIX          II

section,        section       141, together           with the statements          of the House conferees,
leaves no room for doubt that the Congress intended                                  that the speed limit
be enforced.            See also the statement                  of the Senate floor          manager that
"[sltrong        State enforcement                language      has been agreed to by both Senate
and House conferees."                    (120 Cong. Rec. S 21948 (daily                  ed. Dec. 18, 1975))
It seems almost as clear                    that the Congress gave the Secretary                     the
responsibility            for ensuring            not only certification,            but the validity           of
that certification               as well.           It need not be established              further      that it
was the express objective                     of Congress that the States be required                        to sub-
stantiate        their      certifications.              In view of section          315, it is sufficient
simply      to show that Congress intended                        section    141 to ensure State enforce-
ment of the speed limit.                      The intent        that the speed limit           be enforced        and
the expectation             that section            141 would secure such enforcement                  is suffi-
ciently       clear and manifest,                 in our judgment,         to warrant       applying       the above
canon regarding             frustrating           the will      of Congress.       Under the narrow
interpretation,             the Department             is virtually       helpless     to ensure compliance
with the speed limit,                  even if it is clear on the face of the certification
that enforcement,              in fact,         is absent.         As an interpretation           that defeats
the objective           of Congress regarding                 the speed limit,         the narrow inter-
pretation        must give way to the broad interpretation                           since it would enable
the Department            to carry out the will                 of Congress.

The application        of another          common canon, that relating      to interpretations
producing      absurd results,           leads to the same conclusion,        that the narrow
interpretation       of section          141 should be rejected.       As stated    in Sutherland,
the rule is that

                       . . . if the literal      import of the text of an act
                      is not consistent      with the legislative       meaning or
                      intent,   or such interpretation        leads to absurd
                      results,   the words of the statute         will  be modified
                      by the intention      of the legislature.        (p. 65, Vol.                     2A)

Because the statute          charges the Secretary        with ensuring      that the States
validly    certify      that the speed limit        is enforced,     the Secretary          cannot
be simply a mere unquestioning             receptacle     for self-serving         State certi-
fications.        A State could properly         certify    its enforcement        although      it has
assigned     only a single       patrolman    to patrol     one highway in the State.
Worse still,       there would be no bar to completely             false    certifications.
A State that assigned          no patrolmen      to enforcement      duties    could certify
enforcement       even though such certification            would be a fraud upon the
Department      and make a mockery of the speed limit              and a shambles of the
underlying      energy conservation        and safety     goals.

The remedy chosen by the Congress is also supportive            of our view.          Congress
chose the only provision       of Title 23 which permits      immediate      cessation     of
funding,    the only provision    which can be used quickly       to bring a State
back into compliance     if it should fall     out of compliance.         If all that
the Congress cared about was a mere annual certification,               then it could
have tied it to the annual apportionment          of funds under 23 U.S.C. 104.
If however,    it cared about actual    enforcement,     which is a continuing          process,

APPENDIX    II                                                    APPENDIX       II

 it would tie it to section 106, which is also a continuing process,
 one of approval and funding.      Consider the hypothetical of a State
 which formally certifies   that it is enforcing, then one month later an-
 nounces that it considers 55 mph a foolish limitation      and will not issue
 any citations  for its violation.     The remedy chosen by the Congress is
 the only provision in Title 23 which can be used in this situation to
 bring the State back into compliance. Either the State resumes enforce-
 ment or its funding stops. A continuing responsibility       is enforced by
 a continuing remedy.

                                *L               =+./*
                                      William   S. Heffelfinger

    APPENDIX          III                                                                    APPENDIX   III

                                       WASHINGTON,    D.C.     20590

 FOR ADMINISTRATION                                                    December        23,    19’76

    Mr. Henry Eschwege
    Community and Economic Development Division
    U. S. General Accounting Office
    Washington, D. C. 20548

    Dear Mr. Eschwege:

   This is in response to your letter    of October 26, 1976, requesting
   comments from the Department of Transportation    on the General
   Accounting Office draft report entitled,    "Speed Limit 550-1s It
   Achievable?"   We have reviewed the report in detail and prepared
   a Department of Transportation   reply.

    Two copies of the reply           are enclosed.


                                                          p&                          6.V
                                                                       William      S. Heffelfinger

    Enclosures        (2)

APPENDIX III                                             APPENDIX
                                                              . III

                    OF TRANSEORTATIOIV

   Wehave reviewed the Genersl Accounting Office's draft report
   on the 55 mile per hour national maximumspeed limit.   We are
   in basic agreement with the findings and recommendations of the
   report, and would like to compliment the General Accounting
   Office on its analysis and presentation of the complexity of
   issues involved. In general, the report provides a useful
   and constructive analysis of the Department of Transportation's
   55 mile per hour program.

   The report recommendsthat the Department take two steps to
   improve its 55 mph program: (1) establish criteria for eval-
   uating the sufficiency of State enforcement efforts;  and (2)
   institute  a widespread, positive public relations campaign
   to emphasize the continuing need for a national speed limit.
   With respect to the first recommendation, the development of
   enforcement standards has been an area of continuing concern
    for DOT. The Department has explored in depth the feasibility
   of defining the term "enforcement",through the establishment
   of enforcement criteria.    This has proved to be a difficult
   if not impossible task. In the first place, many indicators
   of enforcement cannot be quantified.     In addition, mandated
   enforcement techniques would in many cases reduce needed
   State flexibility   in the selection of enforcement methods
   which are appropriate to local circumstances. Finally, the
   statute itself (23 U.S.C. 141) provides neither direct
   authority or guidance for the establishment of enforcement
   criteria.    The Department of Transportation will continue
   to examine the feasibility   of Federally established enforce-
   ment criteria.
   We concur in the second recommendation, that the Department
   institute a widespread public relations program to foster
   voluntary compliance. Steps are now being taken to signi-
   ficantly expand the Department's 55 mph public support program.
   This expanded effort will include (a) a comprehensive,

APPENDIX III                                                APPENDIX III

  long-term national advertising campaign designed to alter
  driver attitudes concerning the 55 mph speed limit; (b)
  systematic technical assistance to the States in developing
  their individual public information and enforcement programs;
  and (c) developent of support  within. the judiciary, State
  legislatures,  local units of Government, and key highway
  user groups and citizen organizations.    In addition, General
  BenJamin 0. Davis, Jr. will continue to represent the Secre-
  tary in meeting with key Government officials   and private
  organizations to develop support for the 55 mph speed limit.
   In addition to recommendations for DO!2action,   the draft report
  also recommendsthat Congress consider deleting the sanction
  as presently written in favor of positive incentives or variable
  penalties tied to criteria    established by the Secretary of
  Transportation.    Apart from the question of criteria,     discussed
  above, we endorse the concept of positive,incentives      and
  variable penalties.     Such a system will provide the Secretary
  with increased fletibility    in reviewing State certifications
  and in influencing State enforcement efforts.
   Finally, there are a few points which require amplification
   in order to achieve greater clarity.  Our suggestions and
   commentsare listed below by reference to the existing language
   in the report.

                        [See GAO note     1.1

APPENDIX III                                                 APPENDIX III

                           [See GAO note   1.1

[See GAO note        2.1

Pasze46, "Mr. Harsha responded" - Based on this and other language
from the deliberations,   it seems logical to suggest that the Congress
define "enforcement," "strictly  enforce," and similar terms used.
In the sbsence of Congressional action to correct the statute, the
DOTis virtually    pwerless to fulfill   the Congressional mandate to
achieve compliance with the 55 mph national maximumspeed limit.

                                        John W. Snow

GAO notes:     1.      Material deleted related  to matters
                       which were revised in final  report.
                2.     Page reference    refers  to our draft.
                       The corresponding     page in this final
                       report  is page 38.

APPENDIX   IV                                                                     APPENDIX              IV

                          WASHINGTON,   D.C        20461

                              DEC 23 1976                  OFFICE   OF THE ASSISTANT   ADhfINlSTRATOR

  Mr. Monte Canfield,  Jr.
  Energy and Minerals  Division
  United States General Accounting             Office
  Washington, D.C. 20548
  Dear Mr. Canfield:
  Thank you for your letter   of November 4, 1976, to Mr. Zarb
  offering  the Federal Energy Administration       (FEA) the opportunity
  to comment on the General Accounting     Office's    draft report
  to Congress on the 55 MPH speed limit.
  Overall,  we are pleased with the content and caliber   of the
  report.   Such a study has long been needed, and the draft
  evidences it was done thoroughly  and well.  The following
  paragraphs present our specific  comments.
  First,  we wish to add our endorsement to your recommendation
  that a positive,   widespread public education campaign be
  conducted.    Such a program is crucial   to achieving    voluntary
  compliance with the 55 MPH speed limit.      The lack of such a
  campaign has given rise to the erroneous assumption that the
  Federal Government does not adequately value the benefits
  which are being realized     from the 55 MPH speed limit.
  The conclusions    concerning alternatives        to the current
  sanction of withholding      a State's     Federal highway funding
   (pages 39-40) need to be expanded.          The study makes an
  interesting   argument that weakening the penalty for non-
  enforcement of the speed limit        will   actually   strengthen  the
  law by placing    the law's sanction within         the realm of
  possibility.     Each of the three alternatives         should be
  developed with a discussion      of its potential       variations,   as
  well as its pros and cons.
  The recommendation to consider establishing    a schedule of                                          .
  criteria on which to judge the quality    of a State's    enforce-
  ment is well taken and should be investigated    further.

APPENDIX IV                                                       APPENDIX IV

  The energy savings figures quoted on page 5 are undocumented.
  We would prefer that the second sentence on that page be
  changed to read, "The Federal Energy Administration estimated
  the fuel savings would be between lOO,OOO-200,000 barrels of
  oil per day."
 We are unfamiliar  with several of the reports quoted in the
 Fuel Savings Section beginning on page 9. We would urge you
 to include some discussion   as to how the various estimates
 were arrived at as well as complete references,    since a
 demand for the studies mentioned is to be anticipated.
  The conclusions     on the impact of the 55 MPH speed limit       on
  fuel consumption should point out that the 55 MPH speed
  limit    is among the three largest    transportation   energy
  conservation    measures we have, along with improving automotive
  fuel economy and increasing      auto occupancy levels.      Its
  importance in this area should not be understated,         particularly
  since transportation      consumes over half of this country's
  petroleum.     Also in the fuel savings conclusions,      the first
  sentence should read, "Since the establishment        of the
  national    55 MPH speed limit,   average highway speeds...."
  Finally,    two editorial   notes:
         1.    The report's  rambling    writing  style, especially
               in the final  section,    gives the reader an impression
               of redundancy; and,
         2.    It would be very desirable     for   the report    to
               footnote its source materials.
 Thank you again for the opportunity  to contribute     to this
 worthwhile  study.  I hope our comments are helpful       and I
 look forward to receiving  copies of the final    report.

                                 ssistant    Administrator
                                Conservation    and Environment

APPENDIXV                                                     APPENDIXV

                                                  Tenure of office
                                                  Fhrtl          To
   William Coleman                              Mar.   1975   Present
   John W. E&n-mm(acting)                       Feb.   1975   Mar. 1975
    Claude S. Brinegar                          Feb.   1973   Feb. 1975
    John A. Volpe                               Jan.   1969   Feb. 1973
   AlanS.Bayd                                   Jan.   1967   Jan. 1969
    Norbert T. Timann                           my     1973   Present
    Ralph R. Ekrtelsmeyer (acting)              July   1972   May 1973
    Francis C. Turner                           Feb.   1969   June 1972
    Imell K. Bridwell                           Apr.   1967   Jan. 1969
    Johnw. Snaw                                 July   1976   Present
    James B.Gregory                             Aug.   1973   July 1976
    Vacant                                      Apr.   1973   Aug. 1973
    Douglas w. Tans                             Jan.   1970   Mar. 1973
    Robert Brenner (acting)                     Feb.   1969   Jan. 1970
    William Haddon                              Apr.   1967   Feb. 1969

-@'he predecessor agency, Natimal Highway Safety Bureau,was
  part of the Federal Highway Administration before March 1970,
  and the titleof  Director changedtoAdministrator   in
  July 1971.