DOT Unveils Strategic Safety Plan

USDOT Safety
Department of Transportation

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Evaluating existing technologies and supporting emerging technologies will facilitate the adoption of safety programs for the country’s mobility corridors, a new strategic plan from the Department of Transportation determined.

In its “Research, Development and Technology Strategic Plan” specific through 2026, DOT officials proposed devoting further attention to safety strategies associated with human factors, cybersecurity and data-driven systems for road users. DOT’s aim is to minimize and, potentially, eradicate fatalities throughout the nation’s transportation system.

Specific to data, the plan proposed action that would “develop new methods and tools for safety data collection, management, analysis and evaluation.” On design matters, it proposed, “Evaluate the safety performance of infrastructure design and develop and promote the use of effective safety countermeasures.” And, on technology matters, officials should “leverage innovative technologies to monitor, predict and plan ways to reduce injuries and fatalities among the transportation workforce and traveling public.”

According to the plan, adopting the department’s strategy would “contribute to a future transportation system where transportation-related serious injuries and fatalities are eliminated.”

“We must harness investment and ingenuity to create good-paying jobs and ensure that innovative technologies are safe and accessible so that no matter who you are or where you live you will see the benefits of these investments in transportation,” Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement accompanying the plan, unveiled this month.

“Our role as a department is to ensure that the enormous potential of U.S. transportation innovation advances our priorities, reflects American values, and ultimately serves to benefit our nation and its people,” the secretary continued. “This means empowering workers and expanding access to training and good jobs with the free and fair choice to join a union. It also means we can’t be afraid to do things differently, to experiment and learn from our failures.”

Robert Hampshire


“Our values start and end with the well-being of the people the national transportation system serves. This drives our highest priority: safety. This will never change,” added Robert Hampshire, deputy assistant secretary for Research and Technology. “Economic disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have brought renewed attention to the importance of a strong transportation workforce, a robust freight system and a resilient supply chain.”

The strategic plan also will serve as a tool for guiding the implementation of about $5 billion dedicated for research projects. The funding stems from the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The 2021 infrastructure law provided $500 million to the Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation, or SMART, program, as well as investments in University Transportation Centers. Those centers focus on climate, equity and innovation projects.

Additionally, the law established an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Infrastructure (ARPA-I) to ramp up research and development. And, it paved the way for $50 million annually for establishing an initiative to accelerate the department’s priorities and goals linked to disruptive technologies.

Last year, DOT unveiled its National Roadway Safety Strategy. The safety outlook responded to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data estimating nearly 43,000 traffic fatalities in 2021. That marked a 10.5% increase from the previous year.

Per DOT, the safety strategy document “outlines the department’s comprehensive approach to significantly reducing serious injuries and deaths on our nation’s highways, roads and streets.”

“This is the first step in working toward an ambitious long-term goal of reaching zero roadway fatalities,” it went on. “Safety is U.S. DOT’s top priority.”

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