The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can't give firm dates on when overdue regulations will be issued, but it will be soon, according to NHTSA Administrator Jeffrey Runge.
The catastrophic events of Sept. 11 ``set us back a couple of months, but no more,'' Mr. Runge said Feb. 4, in a question-and-answer period after the Feb. 4 Transportation Department budget briefing.
Mr. Runge referred specifically to rulemaking mandated by the Transportation Recall Efficiency, Accountability and Documentation Act.
One final rule emanating from the TREAD Act, covering requirements for onboard tire pressure monitoring devices, is now three months overdue from its November 2001 deadline for issuance. But during a Feb. 28 hearing, NHTSA officials said a tire monitor rule would be out within a week or two (see Deadline News story, page 1).
``This administration swore all regulations it issued would be cost-effective, and we're busily engaged in doing that,'' he said. ``When I came aboard in mid-August, most of the less demanding work had been done on the TREAD Act. The more technical and difficult work was on track when Sept. 11 occurred.''
Mr. Runge spoke right after DOT Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson announced that NHTSA would have a fiscal year 2003 budget of $430 million, nearly flat compared with the $428 million granted to the agency in FY 2002.
The FY 2003 NHTSA budget includes $56 million for research and analysis for agency programs, including TREAD Act initiatives as well as such programs as crashworthiness, crash avoidance and the Fatality and Accident Reporting System.
For DOT as a whole, the FY 2003 budget is $59.3 billion, including $4.8 billion for the new Transportation Security Administration which oversees safety screening for passengers and cargo in the airline sector and elsewhere.
The FY 2003 figure is $4.7 billion or 8 percent above the previous year when adjusted for the reduction in highway funding required by law, Mr. Jackson said. Under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, highway funding is tied to contributions to the Highway Trust Fund, and those contributions dropped $4.4 billion between this year and last.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials issued a release Feb. 4 protesting the cuts in highway funding. ``If these funds are not restored, major program slashes are virtually guaranteed in every state program,'' said AASHTO Executive Director John Horsley.
When TEA-21 is reauthorized in 2003, ``we will look to work with Congress to end this funding volatility,'' Mr. Jackson said.