xt7xd21rk075 https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7xd21rk075/data/mets.xml President's Highway Safety Conference (1949: Washington, D.C.) Works Progress Administration Transportation Publications President's Highway Safety Conference (1949: Washington, D.C.) 1949 v, 21 p. 23 cm. UK holds archival copy for ASERL Collaborative Federal Depository Program libraries. Call Number: FW 2.18:M 85/949/prelim. books  English Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off.  This digital resource may be freely searched and displayed in accordance with U. S. copyright laws. Works Progress Administration Transportation Publications Automobiles -- Law and legislation -- United States Preliminary Revised Report of Committee on Motor Vehicle Administration: The President's Highway Safety Conference, Held in Washington, D.C., June 1, 2, and 3, 1949 text Preliminary Revised Report of Committee on Motor Vehicle Administration: The President's Highway Safety Conference, Held in Washington, D.C., June 1, 2, and 3, 1949 1949 1949 2021 true xt7xd21rk075 section xt7xd21rk075 TYOKE UK

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The President’s HI GHWAY


JUNE 1, 2, and 3, 1949










Conference Organization


General Chairman:
' ' . tor, Federal Works Agency
ashington, D. C.


Vice Chairmen:
Governor of Maryland
The Governors’ Conference
Mayor, Grand Rapids, Mich.
President, United States Conference of Mayors

Executive Director:

Massachusetts Registrar of Motor Vehicles
Boston, Mass.



Commissioner, Public Roads Administration
Washington, D. C.
MAJ. GEN. EDWARD H. BROOKS, Director, Personnel and Administration
General Staff, U. 5. Army.
C. W. BROWN, President, Amer ican Association of State Highway Officials.
J. A. A. BURNQUIST, President, National Association of Attorneys General.
JUSTUS F. CRAEMER, President National Association of Railroad and Utilities
M. C. CONNORS, President, American Association of Motor Vehicle Admin-
NED H. DEARBORN, President, National Safety Council.
CLYDE A. ERWIN, President, National Council of Chief State School Officers
WALLACE J. FALVEY, Chairman, Advisory Group, Accident Prevention Depart-
ment, Association of Casualty and Surety Companies.
COL. HOMER GARRISON, JR., P1 esident, International Association of Chiefs of


' JOSEPH F. HAMMOND, President, National Association of County Officials.

DR. R. H. HUTCHESON, President, Association of State and Territorial Health

HAROLD P. JACKSON, Chairman, National Committee for Traffic Safety.

PYKE JOHNSON, President, Automotive Safety Foundation.

DELESSEPS S. MORRISON, President, American Municipal Association (Mayor
of New Orleans).

CHARLES A. PETERS, Chairman, Federal Interdepartmental Safety Council.

ROBERT J. SCHMUNK, President, American Automobile Association.

EARL 0. SHREVE, President, Chamber of Commerce of the United States.


Consists of members of Coordinating Committee, Chairmen of Conference
Committees, Regional Officers, and Representatives of each State.






A motor vehicle administration program fully geared to highway
safety objectives includes four basic elements which can effectively
assist in preventing traffic accidents:

7 1. Through driver examination and licensing, it requires motor—
ists to develop the driving skill and the knowledge of traflic laws
essential to safe use of the public highways. Such a program,
properly administered, will encourage license applicants to take
advantage of opportunities for driver training and safety
education. '

2. Through suspension or revocation of licenses when driving
records warrant such action, it removes from the highways those
who cannot or will not assume individual responsibility for high—
way safety. Thus it multiplies the effectiveness of enforcement
agencies by making accidents and repeated violations a factor
which the licensed driver must constantly guard against.

3. Through motor vehicle inspection, it provides a periodic

make motorists more keenly aware of the importance of safe driv—
ing attitudes and of their individual responsibilities in accident

4. Through the use of sound financial responsibility laws, it
provides a further incentive for safe driving.-

To be effective, motor vehicle administration must be guided by
facts concerning particular accident problems of the region or locality,

and facts as to the best practices in administration and law. Further
research to establish these facts, and better dissemination of the infor—

mation, is of growing importance.


check on the operating condition of the vehicle and serves to”




Foreword . . ................. . .....
Objectives . . . ...................
Motor Vehicle Administrator’s Responsibilities. . . .
Early Administrative Problems. . . . . . . . ; ; . . . .
Formation of Eastern Conference. . . . ; ; ; ; ;

Safety and Education. . . . ; ; .

Motor Vehicle Departments Recognized.
National Association Formed
Administrators’ National Program
War Activities .
Present Program .
Other Activities.
Driver Licensing. _
Periodic Renewal Examinations
Motor Vehicle Inspection
Defective Equipment.
Brake Check Program .
State and City Inspection Programs.
Origin of Inspection Programs .
Inspection Standards .
Age of Present Vehicles .
Essential requirements. .
.’ Types of Inspection Programs . . . . ; ;
* State Owned and Operated Stations : : :
States Operating Under State Appointed Systems
\ Cities Operating Under Enabling Acts and Local
Financial Responsibility.
Summation. . .
Appendix A—American Association of Motor Vehicle Admin-
istrators Minimum Driver License Examination Standards .
Committee on Motor Vehicle Administration ....... ' .









Report of Committee on
Motor Vehicle Administration



This Committee has been assigned the responsibility of presenting
to The President’s Highway Safety Conference a report on motor
vehicle administration.

This report is confined to the relation and relative importance of
the pertinent elements of motor vehicle administration, or more spe—
cifically, driver licensing, motor-vehicle inspection, and financial re-
sponsibility, to the prevention of street and highway accidents. The
Committee has evaluated the techniques and standards that have been
developed and the extent to which these have been applied in the
several States and has made specific recommendations for inclusion
in an effective accident—prevention program.


The responsibilities of the motor-vehicle administrator today in—
clude not only assistance in the reduction of traffic accidents on the
highways, but other very necessary and time—consuming jobs such as
registration and classification of thousands of vehicles of all types;
maintenance of files on transfer of vehicle ownership; financial ac-
counting of taxes collected; and a huge volume of miscellaneous cor-
respondence in response to inquiries by the general public.

These multitudinous problems have the tendency to shift the atten-
tion of the Administrator from his responsibilities in the field of high—
way safety to his responsibilities in these other directions.

While this Committee has concerned itself only with those respon-
sibilities and duties that fall within the jurisdiction of State motor
vehicle departments and are germane to the subject of street and high-
way safety, it is believed that the historical background of the develop—
ment of motor vehicle administration should be traced briefly.








Shortly after the turn of the century the motor vehicle became an
instrument of taxation and the State fixed the responsibility for the *
levying of a tax and for vehicle identification in the hands of that
State department which in the minds of the legislature was most
suitable to undertake this assignment.

For a number of years the pr oblem of the motor vehicle arose prin-
cipally in its relationship with the horse— drawn vehicle. In those
early days it was not generally believed important to undertake a
police power in the regulation of these vehicles. The motor vehicle
was following substantially the rules of the road practiced at the
time for horse-drawn vehicles. As the number of motor vehicles in—
creased certain elementary regulations were inaugurated but it was
not until after the end of the First World War and the extensive de-
velopment of our highway systems, that the motor vehicle became an
interstate as well as a State regulatory problem.

‘ With the beginning of interstate movement of motor vehicles the
lack of uniformity of State and local motor-vehicle laws and regu-
lations developed into a complex problem. States set up barriers
' which actually prevented a vehicle from one State from entering an-
other State unless certain requirements were met.


The impact of this impossible situation was one of the underlying
reasons for the banding together in 1921 of the State motor vehicle
departments in the eastern section of this country for the purposes of
“considering the question of guiding future legislation and adminis-
tration of motor -vehicle laws so as to procure uniformity and

Because of the similaiity of problems, additional States in the
east came into the confe1ence the following year. At the first meet-
ing of the newly organized conference consideiation was given to
, such problems as operators’ licenses, right-of—way,'rules of the road,
regulation of commercial motor vehicles, uniform lighting, and the
high increase of persons operating vehicles while under the influence
cf liquor. i


Resolutions at subsequent meetings of this group were directed to
the increasing accident problem and the Department of Commerce
1 was urged to call a national conference 1n 1924 to consider the matter
of uniform traflic laws. Reference is made to the work of this N a—







tional Conference of Street and Highway Safety in the report of the
Committee on Laws and Ordinances. -

As early as 1925 these motor—vehicle administrators were advocat-
ing the principle that safety could be realized only through education,
and they pledged themselves to further every type of broad educa-
tional work in which their official duties would permit them to enter.

Vision standards for drivers were agreed upon which resulted in
the establishments of practices that are now generally accepted. Most
State laws, for example, require persons lacking visual acuity to wear
glasses under certain conditions while driving.


Meanwhile, in other sections of the country, identification and regu—
lation of motor vehicles was more or less hodgepodge, and the inter-
state movement of motor vehicles had grown to the extent that people
were traveling from coast to coast by motor vehicle with complete
lack of knowledge by nonresidents of various State laws.

One of the first recommendations of the National Conference on
Street and Highway Safety was to recognize motor vehicle depart-
ments as such and define their jurisdiction. 'This particular recom-
mendation was helpful in drawing together within the respective
States those elements which had been decentralized under various
State departments.


In October 1932 the Eastern Conference of Motor Vehicle Admin—
istrators had grown to include 22 States, the District of Columbia, and
Provinces of Canada. At a meeting held at that time in Detroit,
Mich., the group recognized the need for an organization national in
scope to meet the many problems that were developing in motor vehicle
administration throughout the country.

The officials in attendance agreed by resolution to form a national
conference of motor-vehicle administrators and the Eastern Confer—
ence of Motor Vehicle Administrators agreed to reorganize as Re-
gion 1 of this national conference. The Southern States organized
themselves into Region 2; the Mid-Western States became Region 3,
and the lVestern States Region 4. All the Provinces of Canada became
members and fitted themselves into Regions 1, 3, and 4c, geographically.

Oflicers of this national body were elected from the four established
regions and it was through the leadership and support given this early
movement by Thomas H. MacDonald, then Chief of the Bureau of


‘ All references made to the origin, development, and programs of the American Associ-
ation of Motor Vehicle Administrators is based on information available at the Associa-
tion’s national headquarters, 840 Woodward Building, Washington 5, D. C.









Public Roads and now Commissioner of the Public Roads Administra-
tion, that a secretariat was supplied this national organization.

The American Association of Motor Vehicles Administrators was
the name given this national group and it adopted substantially the
same program that was being carried forward at that time by the
Eastern Conference of Motor Vehicle Administrators.


In the field of highway safety the Association provided for the pro-
motion of uniform laws and regulations governing drivers’ licenses,
and equipment and operation of motor vehicles; uniform standards
and practices of enforcement by police and uniform statutes for en-
forcement by judicial authorities; educational campaigns in the inter—
est of public safety; technical studies of causes and prevention of
traffic accidents; special studies in the development oftrafiic control
standards; proper selection and training of department heads in the
various fields of motor-vehicle administration; and cooperation with
Federal agencies and private organizations in studies relating to safe
highway transportation.

In 1938 the Association was able to establish national headquarters

‘to carry forward its objectives. The financial contributions made by
the member States and the Provinces of Canada fell far short of being
sufficient. It became necessary for the American Association of Motor
Vehicle Administrators to seek financial support outside of its own
administrative group in order to effectuate its program, and that con—
dition continues today.


In December 1940, the Administrators, at the request of the Secre-
tary of War, joined together with State highway officials, State police
officials, and the Public Roads Administration in forming the National
Highway Traffic Advisory Committee to the War Department. The
complete facilities of the Association’s national headquarters in Wash-
ington as well as the State motor vehicle departments throughout the
country were made available to the War Department to carry out.a
program of conservation of motor vehicles and facilitation of essential


In 1944, looking forward to the end of the war, the Association
developed and agreed upon a 10-point program which is its program
today. With its adoption, the then President of the Association called
attention to the fact that if the Association were to accomplish its
purposes and produce the necessary results each member individually


must assume the responsibility for the successful effectuation of the
program in his respective jurisdiction. The members, he declared,
must liberalize their individual viewpoints and work for the benefit
of the whole, and be willing to accept and conform to the majority rule.

He emphasized that the need for group thinking and group action
in the administrative field had brought about the formation of the
Association and that group thinking and group action were still needed
to carry out the program of the Association.

The Committee makes this 10-point program part of this report:

1. Adoption of the Uniform Vehicle Code by all member depart-

2. Uniform reciprocity between all States for vehicles in interstate

3. Adoption in States where needed, of approved minimum flooring
of maximum sizes and weights for commercial vehicles.

4. Adoption of Association’s approved standards for driver exam-
inations and examination procedures by all States.

5. Adoption of uniform vehicle inspection law by all States.

6. Members to provide leadership in pedestrian regulation and con-
trol program in each State,

7. Members to procure establishment of training courses in normal
schools and colleges for driver-training teachers in all States.

8. Members to procure incorporation of required driver—training
courses in all high schools in all States.

9. Close cooperation between State administrative and State en-
forcement officials.

10. Cooperation of all States with the State and Local Otficials’
National Highway Safety Committee, Public Roads Administration,
and other agencies.


In addition to the program as outlined, the national headquarters
of the Association in Washington gives direct service and assistance
to the State members in matters of uniform practices and procedures,
departmental organization and planning, research and studies cur-
rently needed, and selection of training of personnel. It acts as
liaison with Federal agencies and other associations working in the
field of highway transportation, publishes monthly bulletins, and dis-
seminates related information and statistics.

The Association work is divided into committee activities both
within the national structure and within the regional groups and meet-
ings are held periodically, regionally and nationally, to review its
programs and evaluate the progress made.





The Committee believes that it is necessary to lay this foundation
for an acceptance of the recommendations of the American Associa-
tion of Motor Vehicle Administrators by the Conference. The Com-
mittee is impressed by the work so far done by this Association in the
area of street and highway safety.

Confining its discussion to those elements of this program that fall
within the scope of highway safety, the Committee has divided its
assignment into the three subjects to be considered, namely, driver
licensing, motor-vehicle inspection, and financial responsibility.


This committee recognizes the important part that driver
licensing plays in the control of drivers and the reduction of traffic
accidents. For the purposes of this report the following is a state-
ment of the overall problem; minimum driver license examination
standards of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Admini-
strators are given in Appendix A of this report.

The Committee, in carefully reviewing the problem of licensing,
has found basic elements essential to the proper functioning of a
driver license law. The continued lack of any one of these basic
elements has been found sufficient to cause any driver license law to
become a nuisance, a mail-order proposition, or a revenue measure.
These elements are:

. A. Driving a motor vehicle on the highway is a privilege
granted by the State and may be taken away from the licensee
by the State for cause. The granting of this privilege is a func-
tion of the police power of a State through which the State
exercises the right to establish reasonable standards for examina-
tion and the authority to revoke or suspend licenses of drivers
who do not comply with traffic laws.

B. Legislation creating a driver-license law must be so drawn
that provisions are made for adequate fees, limited duration of
license, centralized administration, mandatory revocation for
certain offenses, examination of all new drivers, broad discretion-
ary power to suspend licenses of drivers for cause or to exercise
the power of suspension or revocation in certain stated cases.

C. The license law must be administered on a broad, efiicient
basis by an adequate number of trained personnel employed by
the State for the single purpose of carrying out the duties pre-
scribed in controlling drivers through licensing.

D. There must be a strong public support of a character that
Will insure the permanence of strict examinations and impartial
suspension and revocations when warranted.


\Vith these basic elements in mind, the Committee has evaluated
the techniques and standards that have been developed and the ex-
tent to which these have been applied in the several States.

A. Driving 738 a privilege.—-Supreme courts in practically every
State have upheld this principle. Not once has a license law been
invalidated or repealed. It seems necessary only to emphasize that
the public must be constantly reminded that a license to drive is a
privilege—not a right.

B. Proper Legislation must be emcted.—The model for driver li-
censing legislation is the Uniform Vehicle Code, Act II, Uniform
Operators’ and Chauffeurs’ Licensing Act. Adopted first in 1924
and revised every 4 years, it is the accepted standard. Basically, Act
II, provides for the following:

1. Centralized administration of licensing.

2. Periodic renewal of licenses and adequate fees.

3. Examination of all new applicants for licenses.

4. Mandatory revocation of license by department when licensee
commits certain antisocial acts.

5. Discretionary suspension of license by department when
licensee’s driving record warrants such action. '

Other sections in the Uniform Vehicle Code found desirable are
provisions for:
1. Reexamination of drivers with bad records.
2. Restrictions upon licensee for cause by department?
3. Instruction permit for beginning drivers.
4. Minimum age limit for drivers.
5. Parental consent and responsibility for minors.

Until there is included in a State driver-license law at least these
sections, it does not comply with the Uniform Vehicle Code. In the
light of the foregoing, there is a lack of uniformity in the various
driver license law requirements as follows:

1. One State does not have an operator’s license law.

2. Seven States do not have centralized driver-license adminis-
tration by one State department.

3. Three States have licenses good until revoked.

4. Thirty States charge fees less than $1 per driver per year.

5. Three States do not examine drivers applying for a license.

2The Motor Vehicle Administrators, in cooperation with others, have developed plans
and special equipment to facilitate operation of motor vehicles by amputee war veterans.







6. Twelve States do not have license laws containing standard
provisions relating to revocation of licenses.

7. Six States do not have license laWs granting administrators
sufficiently broad discretionary authority to suspend a driver’s
license in accordance with the practice recommended in the
Uniform Vehicle Code.

The Committee strongly urges revision of those State laws that re-
quire driver licensing procedures at variance with the Uniform Ve-
hicle Code, specifically those providing for split administration, local
examiners, good—until—revoked licenses, inadequate fees, and limited
suspensions power.

C. The driver-license law must be administered by an adequate
number 0 f trained, interested personnel—In measuring the extent to
which this basic element has been applied in the several States, the
Committee was guided by the following premises:

1. The applicant for a driver’s license has a right to expect
that the examiner is so well trained that he knows more about
driving than applicants.

2. The department should have sufficient trained personnel
to administer to all original applicants a comprehensive, unhur-
ried, impartial, and courteous examination which should be
required by law.

3. The licensee with an accumulated bad driving record gen-
erally will continue to be a bad driver unless he receives expert
diagnosis and corrective advice.

4. The public has a right to expect the department to give im-
mediate attention to the licensee whose bad record is evidence of
unsafe practices, to the extent of removing from the highways
that driver if all other corrective measures fail.

The Committee lists the following practices which are a source of
public criticism, and are reasons why driver licensing does not con-
tribute to traffic safety to the extent possible:

1. Examiners are selected on a political basis rather than on
the basis of fitting the job to the man and the man to the job.

2. Examiners are often highway patrolmen or State police who
are not selected for the duty and do not have the time or interest
to examine properly. r p

3. Examiners are local citizens or public officials who are
neither qualified by training or supervision as examiners nor
free from political domination or other consideration in the con-
duct of the test.




4. Examiners generally are given no formal training. When
such training is provided it often is of 3 days or less duration.

5. Examiners are so few in number that they cannot give a
complete examination. In many localities it is reported that an
examiner must examine an average of 50 to 100 persons daily.

6. Examiners are not supervised by chief examiners but are
often dependent on such supervision as may be given by district
tax supervisors, or patrol or police subordinates whose interests
are mainly in other fields.

7. Examiners are provided with poor tools and must conduct
examinations in crowded quarters.

8. Driver improvement personnel interviewers, hearing officers,
and special examiners do not exist in all the States.

9. Driver records are not centralized or of a permanent char-
acter, and not readily available to enforcement and court officials.

10. Driver records in all States are not used by the driver license
division to search out and correct accident and Violation repeaters.

11. Driver license divisions do not make systematic attempts
to secure arrest and conviction reports from local enforcement
and court officials, or reports from drivers involved in accidents.

12. Driver license divisions are made impotent in the use of
driver control and improvement techniques by the lack of ade-
quate personnel to search and post records of accidents, arrests,
convictions, and complaints.

13. Fees charged for driver licenses are generally not adequate
and Where suflicient often are not used for that purpose, but are
diverted into the general fund without provision being made to
carry on recommended examination, driver control, and improve-
ment programs.

Until such practices are eliminated, driver licensing will not be the
potent force it is capable of being in the prevention of traffic accidents.
These are practices that can be corrected by the States themselves and
if corrected would make unnecessary a Federal driver license law.

D. There must be strong public support of a character that will
insure the permanence of strict emaminaticns and impartial suspen-
sions and recocations when warranted. That 47 States and the
District of Columbia have driver license laws (is known. But the
Committee recognizes that the enforcement of the provisions of these
laws varies from excellent to worthless. In many instances State leg-
islatures have passed standard laws but have neglected to provide





proper funds or authority for their administration. N 0 law is worth
the paper it is written on unless actively and fairly administered.

The Committee recognizes the limitations of individual oflicials who
wish to bring about desired improvements when executive chiefs,
budget officers, State legislatures, and the general public are apathetic
to traffic safety programs which cost money and require increased
personnel. Yet in surveying the field of driver licensing, the Com-
mittee was made acutely aware of the large number of public spirited
citizens and groups who earnestly desire an improvement in the control
of drivers through licensing.

It is not in the province of this Committee to provide a program
designed to foster public support for driver licensing. The Com-
mittee believes, however, that those groups should work for and
support :

1. Adoption of a standard law patterned after the Uniform
Vehicle Code.

2. Provision of an adequate number of trained examiners,
properly supervised, giving examinations based on minimum
standards adopted by the American Association of Motor Vehicle
Administrators, to:

a. All new drivers applying for license.
1). Special classes of drivers such as physically handicapped
or superannuated.
3. A driver improvement program consisting of:
a. Mandatory revocations of licenses for cause.
b. Discretionary suspensions of licenses for cause.
0. Diagnosis and treatment for drivers with bad records.

Periodic Renewal Examinations

With limited personnel available for re—examination of drivers, the
greatest traffic safety values will be attained by emphasis on re-exami-
nation of those drivers who are involved in accidents and who re-
peatedly violate traflic laws or who have physical or mental disabilities
or infirmities, or who, for any reason, are more than normally likely
to be involved in accidents. Thorough re-examination of those most
obviously in need of it is much more desirable than hurried, mass
re-examination of dubious thoroughness or value. Public opinion and
support warrants further extension of re-examination.

This Committee believes that public sentiment will strongly support
efforts of the driver-license administrator to control and improve
drivers with bad recOrds, by exercising his authority to suspend and
revoke licenses, and that the administrators should be active and




energetic, consistent with good judgment, in effecting a balanced pro-
gram of driver improvement. In‘ short, the administrator should not
overlook any avenue available to the driver-license division for the
protection of the public on the streets and highways.


The Committee has carefully considered its assignment in regard
to appraising and evaluating the matter of periodic motor-vehicle
inspection and presents a digest of its findings.

Defective Equipment

Four elements, singly or in combination, are responsible for all
motor-vehicle accidents—the driver, the pedestrian, the highway, and
the vehicle. Mechanical failure, it is generally agreed, is not the niost
important contributing factor, but it is important enough to merit
serious consideration.

The National Safety Council in its 1948 edition of Accident Facts
states that “Vehicle defects were reported as contributing causes in
16 percent of all fatal accidents in 1947. This compares with 18 per—
cent in 1946 and 8 percent in 1941, the last prewar year.” Accident
Facts further points out that “defective brakes, improper lights and
defective tires, constituted over one-half of all defects reported.”

In considering these facts it must be noted that it is not always
possible to determine the exact relation of mechanical failures to traffic
accidents since the defective equipment becomes part of the vehicle
wreckage and consequently may not reveal the precise accident cause.

Brake Check and Trafiic Safety Check Programs

Evidence developed by the National Brake Emphasis Program, .
sponsored in 1945 by the International Association of Chiefs of Police
and several hundred cooperating organizations, strongly indicates the.
need for periodic inspections. The success of this program led in
1946 to a National Police Traffic Safety Check Program providing
for inspection of lights, steering mechanism, tires, and windshield
wipers, as well as brakes.




During the 1945 program 1,664,317 vehicles throughout the Nation
were subjected to brake inspections by police durin