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NHTSA is one of 11 agencies within the Department of Transportation and is responsible for reducing deaths, injuries and economic losses resulting from motor vehicle crashes. NHTSA sets and enforces safety performance standards for motor vehicles and equipment and through grants to State and local governments enables them to conduct effective local highway safety programs.

NHTSA helps states and local communities reduce the threat of drunk drivers, promotes the use of seat belts, child safety seats and air bags, investigates odometer fraud, establishes and enforces vehicle anti-theft regulations and provides consumer information on vehicle safety topics. The Highway Safety Act of 1966 created a partnership among Federal, State, and local governments to improve and expand the Nation’s highway safety activities. Every State, U. S. territory, and Indian Nation along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, has an agency responsible for coordinating its highway safety programs.

NHTSA, under the Section 402 of the Highway Safety Act, distributes State and community grant funds to these agencies based on a statutory formula. These grants support highway safety plans, provide start-up money for new programs and gives direction to existing programs. The Office of Regional Operations and Program Delivery (ROPD) is one of two offices within the Office of Traffic Injury Control and employs almost 100 people both in its Washington, DC, headquarters office and in its 10 Regional Offices. These regional offices deliver valuable highway safety support at the local level. These offices and their staff help states identify their highway safety problems and evaluate safety programs and activities, provide technical assistance to State and local program managers and training on a variety of programmatic subjects.

ROPD administers NHTSA’s discretionary grant programs under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), which is over $700 million annually and is more than 70 percent of NHTSA’s budget. These grants are awarded to the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Territories and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

On July 6, 2012, MAP-21 was signed into law by President Obama. MAP-21 restructured and made changes to the highway safety grant programs administered by NHTSA. MAP-21 specifies a single application deadline for all highway safety grants and emphasizes the requirement that all States have a performance-based highway safety program designed to reduce traffic crashes and the resulting deaths, injuries and property damage.

Prior to Congress enacting MAP-21, we were providing grants under the authority of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible Transportation Equitable Act for the 21St Century: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) from 2005-2012. Prior to 2005, Congress authorized our spending under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) from 1998-2005. Information about these two authorization periods can be found in our archives section.


SAFETEA-LU Annual Reports