James J. Howard (July 24, 1927 in Irvington, New Jersey - March 25, 1988 in Washington, DC) was an American educator and political figure, serving in the U.S. House of Representatives (1965-1988) as a Democrat from the State of New Jersey.
Howard garduated St. Rose School, Belmar, in 1941, Asbury Park High School in 1947, St. Bonaventure University, in 1952; and earned a Master of Education degree from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J., in 1958.
Prior to being elected to the House, Howard served in the United States Navy in the South Pacific from December 30, 1944, to July 19, 1946; teacher and acting principal in Wall Township school system, 1952-1964.
Elected as a Democrat to the Eighty-ninth and to the eleven succeeding Congresses and served from January 3, 1965, until his death in Washington, D.C., on March 25, 1988.
On May 23, 1967, Howard created a public controversy over the M-16, the basic combat rifle in Vietnam, begins after he reads a letter to the House of Representatives in which a Marine in Vietnam claims that almost all Americans killed in the battle for Hill 881 died as a result of their new M-16 rifles jamming. By the end of 1967, the problem had been resolved.
In 1974, he introduced the idea of a 55-mile-per-hour speed limit. And Congress soon imposed a nationwide 55 MPH (90 km/h) speed limit by threatening to withhold highway funds from states that did not adopt this limit. It was estimated a speed of 55 mph used 17ess fuel per mile than a speed of 75 MPH (120 km/h). It was also believed, based on a noticeable drop the first year the limit was imposed, that it cut down on highway deaths, but later studies were more mixed on this point. In addition, Howard authored an innovative coordinated surface transportation policy and program. Howardâ€™s other notable, enduring contributions to the fight for enhanced highway safety include sponsorship of a myriad of bills such as: the Howard-Barnes anti-drunk driving legislation (1982); the Child Restraint Law (1984), which increased funding for state child passenger safety programs; legislation establishing a uniform minimum drinking age of 21 (1984); the National Driverâ€™s Register (1982); th National Infrastructure Act (1983); and the Motor Carrier Act (1980), which was the first regulatory reform of the trucking industry in half a century that, among other things, increased federal aid for truck safety programs.
The career of Representative was distinguished by his steadfast commitment to highway safety issues, Howard - who came to be known as "Mr. Highway Safety" - was named chair of Committee on Public Works and Transportation (Ninety-seventh through One Hundredth Congresses).
At the time of his death, Representative Howard was fighting against a broad business coalition preparing to mount a renewed effort to persuade Congress to "complete" truck deregulation -- a move they said will save $87 billion in distribution costs. Upon his death the committee chairmanship was succeeded by Rep. Glenn M. Anderson (D-CA).
Frank Pallone filled the seat vacated by Howard's death in 1988.