I was stunned when Congress, specifically the House of Representatives, failed to pass a bill that would have made a 0.08 percent blood alcohol level the national standard for drunken drivers.
Others, far wiser than I in the ways of Washington, tell me that the problem is not so much that Congress doesn't want to lower the threshold for drunken driving, but that there is a great feeling in Congress that the federal government should not be responsible for everything, and the states do have the right to decide many issues.
I understand the point of view, although I disagree and regret that we won't have a national drunken driving standard.
There are so many related issues concerning highway safety and the administration of federal laws that impact all our states that we need to make the entire transportation system a federal responsibility.
No one in his right mind would consider, for even an instant, the idea of giving individual states any participation in the Federal Aviation Administration. Obviously, it is necessary for the federal government to take precedence over the states in rules and regulations for flight safety.
At a minimum, that should also apply to our interstate highway system. There should be uniform laws that apply to vehicles and operators. If the federal government regulated the interstate system, by default, the rules and regulations would apply to the entire country, with the possible exception of Alaska and Hawaii.
This country also should have a national driver's license. That license should have the same standards for performance and age as, say, a pilot's license. That would mean that the minimum age would be consistent and infractions would be the same nationally. But that also is considered to be within the jurisdiction of the states and would be impossible to accomplish.
Yet back in 1974, when the federal government wanted to reduce the speed limit to 55 mph, the job was done very quickly. And in 1995, when the national speed limit was rescinded, it also happened very quickly. It seems that the feds can do whatever they are interested in doing.
There is a place for federal jurisdiction. And highway safety is one area in which the feds should get involved because it affects all of us.
They should start with drunken driving.