Banner Graphic of FY 2003 Budget in Brief



The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was established as a separate organization within the Department of Transportation (DOT) in March 1970 to administer the Department's motor vehicle and highway safety programs. NHTSA succeeded the Department's Federal Highway Administration's National Highway Safety Bureau, which originally was charged with administering these programs.

On June 9, 1998, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) (Pub. L. 105-178) reauthorized all of NHTSA's motor vehicle and highway safety programs and created several new highway safety incentive grant programs that NHTSA administers.

On November 1, 2000, the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act (Pub. L. 106-414), was enacted. The TREAD Act requires NHTSA to undertake more than a dozen rulemaking actions within the next two years in the areas of tire safety standards, rollover propensity, and improving child safety.

As amended, the NHTSA statutes are as follows:

  • Motor Vehicle Safety (chapter 301 of title 49, U.S. Code), provides for the establishment and enforcement of safety standards and regulations for the manufacture of new motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment, together with supporting research. 
  • Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings (part C of subtitle VI of title 49, U.S. Code), provides for the establishment of low-speed bumper protection standards, consumer information activities, odometer regulations, fuel economy standards, and motor vehicle theft prevention standards. 
  • Highway Safety (chapter 4 of title 23, U.S. Code), provides for coordinated national highway safety grant programs carried out by the states and local communities (Section 402), supported by research and development programs (Section 403). Highway safety incentive grant programs are provided to encourage the states to enhance the effectiveness of: (1) occupant protection programs and laws (Section 405); (2) alcohol-impaired driving countermeasures and laws (Section 410); and (3) highway safety data improvement programs (Section 411). 
  • National Driver Register (chapter 303 of title 49 U.S. Code), provides for the operation of the National Driver Register (NDR), which facilitates the interstate transfer of driver licensing information concerning problem drivers whose licenses to drive have been suspended or revoked for cause.

The FY 2003 Budget Request reflects the priority placed on highway safety programs by the Secretary and the Administration. Motor vehicle crashes account for 94 percent of the deaths and 99 percent of the injuries in U.S. transportation. The funding levels below include staffing, administrative, and program costs.

(Dollars in Thousands)
PROGRAMS FY 2001* Enacted FY 2002* Enacted FY2002* Request +/- 02/03
Safety Performance Standards $18,812 $22,020 $25,085 +$3,065
Safety Assurance $31,611 $30,925 $32,252 +$1,327
Highway Safety $54,982 $58,577 $54,405 $4,172
Research and Analysis $72,920 $74,377 $73,674 $703
General Administration $10,902 $12,230 $12,665 +$435
Office of the Administrator $4,922 $6,556 $6,800 +$244
Subtotal, Operations and Research $194,419 $204,685 $204,881 +$196
Section 402 State and 
Community Grants
$154,659 $160,000 $165,000 +$5,000
Section 410 Alcohol Driving Countermeasures Grants $35,921 $38,000 $40,000 +$2,000
Section 405 Occupant 
Protection Incentive Grants
$12,971 $15,000 $20,000 +$5,000
Section 2003(b) Child Passenger Protection Education Grants** [$7,500] [$7,500] $0 $0
Section 411 Safety Data $8,980 $10,000 $0 $10,000
National Driver Register*** [$2,000] [$2,000] [$2,000] $0
Subtotal, Highway Safety Grants $212,531 $223,000 $225,000 +$2,000
Total $406,680 $427,685 $429,881 +$2,196
*Funding includes CSRS/FEHB accruals.
**Transferred from FHWA
***NDR funding is included in the Highway Safety program.

Dollars in Thousands

Operations and Research

Pie Graph of Operations and Researchd

FY 2003 TOTAL Request: $204,881


Highway Traffic Safety Grants

Pie Graph of Highway Traffic Safety Grantsd

FY 2003 TOTAL Request: $225,000

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