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Prop. 51 Helps Pave the Way to Greater Traffic Safety

October 23, 2002|Dana Rose | Dana Rose is the state coordinator for the California Safe Kids Campaign, a part of the UC Davis Medical Center's Trauma Prevention Program.

Proposition 51, the safe-roads measure, rightly sets spending priorities by using just 30% of the car sales tax we already pay to make traffic safety improvements. It would fix our most dangerous roads, replace unsafe school buses and ease our most congested traffic bottlenecks.

More than 1,000 school buses used every day in California don't meet 1977 federal safety standards. Thousands of additional school buses spew out diesel exhaust fumes that can seep inside, risking asthma and other health problems.

Proposition 51 also would improve the safety of bicycle and walking paths and provide funds to enforce reduced speed limits near schools.

Traffic congestion would be relieved not only by providing highway expansion at the worst bottlenecks but also by greatly expanding bus and light-rail service to get people out of their cars and off the roads. Some of the new transportation projects planned are:

* the Exposition Boulevard light-rail line;

* a connection between the El Monte busway and the Harbor Freeway;

* traffic congestion relief along the Ventura Freeway, including bus rapid transit, traffic light synchronization along parallel roads and safety improvements;

* new rapid bus service to LAX and service in the San Fernando Valley and elsewhere;

* extension of light rail east of Pasadena;

* a 405 Freeway carpool lane over the Sepulveda Pass.

Proposition 51 also provides funds to reduce air and water pollution from cars and trucks.

It is supported by hundreds of public interest groups, including the California Safe Kids Network, the California Nurses Assn., the California Lung Assn. and the California Organization of Police and Sheriffs.

To ensure strict accountability, Proposition 51 contains taxpayer safeguards that require annual audits by an independent citizen commission.

Administrative overhead is limited to 2% of the funds spent.

It is clear that we must do more to reduce traffic congestion, improve highway safety and make school transportation much safer.

By using just 30% of the sales tax on cars now, we can avoid future tax increases.

And using an existing car tax to pay for these transportation and safety programs simply makes sense.

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