Sen. Cruz: Democrats Degrading Law Enforcement Harms Roadway Safety

May 21, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In his opening statement at today’s Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, Maritime, Freight, and Ports hearing titled “Examining the Roadway Safety Crisis and Highlighting Community Solutions,” Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) highlighted how the Biden administration has failed to build new, safer roads that address congestion and discussed how a lack of traffic safety enforcement has resulted in increased traffic fatalities.

Here are Sen. Cruz’s remarks as delivered:

“Thank you, Chairman Peters and Ranking Member Young, for holding this hearing today.

“Last year 40,990 people died on roads in the United States. I expect that we will hear that number multiple times today. And that’s because it’s a tragic number, especially for all of those who lost loved ones.

“There are many reasons that go into this, one of which is lack of adequate infrastructure, lack of sufficient freeways, lack of sufficient space that creates more traffic.

“Unfortunately, the Biden administration has consistently failed to prioritize new freeways, has consistently failed to prioritize infrastructure and instead, the Biden administration has allowed itself to be distracted by political pet projects. Things like bike lanes, and things like the allegation that there are racist roads we need to be worried about instead of focusing on the important task of building more damn roads.

“On this committee, I’m proud to have led the way on multiple pieces of bipartisan legislation that have been signed into law to expand our critical infrastructure. I-14, a new interstate that will run from the Permian Basin in Texas -- east all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. That legislation I introduced with Raphael Warnock, a Democrat who serves on this committee and Cruz-Warnock passed unanimously and was signed into law.

“That Interstate is critically needed throughout West Texas, East Texas, and each of the states that I-14 will run through all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.

“Likewise, I was the lead author of legislation designating I-27, the Ports-to-Plains corridor. That bill was introduced with Ben Ray Lujan, another Democrat and another member of this committee. I-27 will run from Laredo, Texas, up north through West Texas, up through the panhandle of Texas, up into New Mexico – ultimately all the way up to Canada.

“It will be a major artery for North-South trade and commerce, just like I-14 will be a major artery for East-West trade and commerce.

“Likewise, I was the lead author of legislation to build and expand four new bridges from South Texas to Mexico across the Rio Grande River. Those bridges were being delayed by bureaucratic roadblocks put up by the Biden administration. Repeatedly I went to the Secretary of Transportation, and to the Secretary of State -- asked them to stop those bureaucratic roadblocks -- they refused to do so. Every one of those projects was delayed three, four or five years, until I authored legislation streamlining the permitting of that legislation of those bridges.

“That legislation was signed into law in December of last year, and the result will produce tens of thousands of high paying jobs in Texas and billions of dollars of additional trade and commerce between Texas and Mexico.

“Infrastructure is one critical way to protect safety. Another way is public safety. And sadly, we have seen Democrats spend much of the past few years disparaging law enforcement and we’re learning that less enforcement of traffic safety potentially leads to more traffic crashes. That makes sense if you think the police are not going to enforce laws, then people are going to be more likely to break the laws.

“In his written testimony for today’s hearing, Mr. Nelson notes that, ‘Rising traffic fatalities are correlated with drops in the enforcement of lifesaving traffic safety laws,’ and that parts of the country have seen a decrease in citations by as much as 50 percent for dangerous activities like speeding or impaired driving. An article from October 2023 titled ‘The Decline in Police Traffic Stops Is Killing People’ points out that cities like Seattle, New York City, and St. Louis saw traffic stops decline and saw significant increases in traffic fatalities. Previous research has also drawn a link between declines in traffic enforcement and accidents.

“Another notable issue is drugged driving. A 2022 research paper found that from 2009 to 2019, legalization of recreational marijuana was, ‘associated with a 6.5 percent increase in injury crash rates and a 2.3 percent increase in fatal crash rates.’

“And yet the Biden administration, rather than working to keep our family safe on the roadways, has instead decreed that it will reclassify marijuana from a schedule 1 substance to schedule 3. The American Trucking Associations quickly followed this news with a letter highlighting that rescheduling marijuana without an explicit allowance to test for its use would create confusion and result in ‘serious safety impacts to safety-sensitive industries.’

“Thank you. I look forward to hearing from the witnesses.”