Tester Statement on Tribal Transportation Safety Funding
(U.S. Senate) – Senator Jon Tester issued the following statement after the Federal Highway Administration announced it was awarding more than $1 million to five Montana tribes to improve safety in Indian Country.
Tester, the Vice Chair of the Indian Affairs Committee, helped lead efforts in the Senate to prioritize highway safety in Indian Country in the recently-enacted Highway Bill. That bill includes a 12 percent increase over the next five years in the Tribal Transportation Program, including new investments in transportation safety.
According to the National Congress of American Indians, motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of unintentional injury or death for Native Americans of all ages. Additionally Native people are killed at twice the rate of all other ethnic groups in the U.S. as a result of motor vehicle crashes.
“We must do more to increase safety on our rural roads in Indian Country,” Tester said. “These funds will empower tribes to improve their transportation infrastructure and prevent the loss of life.”
In total, $1.16 million was awarded to five local tribes for projects ranging from the development of a strategic highway safety plan to the funding of a DUI task force. The specific allocation to each tribe is as follows:
• Northern Cheyenne Tribe – $641,428
To develop a strategic highway safety plan and fund a pathway project.
• Fort Peck Assiniboine Sioux Tribes – $40,000
To fund a Northern Tribe DUI Task Force and develop educational materials to support tribal highway safety programs.
• Crow Tribe – $371,000
To fund a Head Start Path Project, complete emergency services communication upgrades, and implement the Safe on all Roads (SOAR) Program which aims to reduce traffic fatalities by increasing seatbelt use and deter drinking and driving.
• Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes – $40,000
To acquire portable highway signs to broadcast traffic and safety notifications.
• Blackfeet Nation – $72,000
To create an educational video and implement the Safe on all Roads (SOAR) Program which aims to reduce traffic fatalities by increasing seatbelt use and deter drinking and driving.