The US Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the federal government’s new comprehensive National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS), a roadmap for addressing roadway fatalities and serious injuries nationwide. Almost 95 percent of the Nation’s transportation deaths occur on its streets, roads, and highways. While the number of annual roadway fatalities declined for many years, progress plateaued over the last decade, and now alarmingly, fatalities have risen during the pandemic. The NRSS provides concrete steps that DOT will take to address this crisis systemically and prevent these tragic and avoidable deaths and serious injuries. Bolstered by funding included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the NRSS is the first step in working toward an ambitious long-term goal of reaching zero roadway fatalities.
The NRSS objectives are divided into 5 categories:
- Safer people
- Safer vehicles
- Safer roads
- Safer speeds
- Post-crash care
A few of the key actions include:
- Work with states and local road owners to build and maintain safer roadway through efforts including: updates to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices; a Complete Streets Initiative to provide technical assistance to communities of all sizes; and speed limit setting.
- Leveraging technology to improve the safety of motor vehicles on our roadways, including rulemaking on automatic emergency braking and pedestrian automatic emergency braking, and updates to the New Car Assessment Program.
- Investing in road safety through funding in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including a new $6 billion Safe Streets and Roads for All program, hundreds of millions for behavioral research and interventions, and $4 billion in additional funding for the Highway Safety Improvement Program.
In 2019, the third leading cause roadway fatalities related to risky driver behavior was not wearing a seatbelt. 9,466 fatalities resulted in not wearing a seatbelt. That is just a shade under the 9,478 and significantly more than distracted and drowsy driving combined. It is shocking how many drivers do not wear seatbelts in 2022, but this seems like a low hanging fruit issue where DOT can quickly begin to save lives.
“We cannot tolerate the continuing crisis of roadway deaths in America. These deaths are preventable, and that’s why we’re launching the National Roadway Safety Strategy today a bold, comprehensive plan, with significant new funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law” said US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.