DOT Updates Safety Initiative After First Year

DOT image promoting commitment to zero highway fatalites
Department of Transportation via Twitter

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The Department of Transportation over the past year has undertaken a variety of actions related to guidance and rulemakings that officials say will lay the groundwork for reducing the number of fatal crashes on U.S. roadways.

The actions, taken in the first year of the agency’s five-year National Roadway Safety Strategy, ranged from issuing a final rule on rear impact guards for truck trailers and a proposed rule for speed limiters on large trucks to funding for safer road designs and money for campaigns aimed at reducing speeding.

Also Feb. 3, American Trucking Associations announced it has joined DOT’s “Call to Action” in support of the NRSS along with other organizations in the private and public sectors, advocacy and community groups, researchers and beyond.

“ATA shares DOT’s commitment to the goal of zero highway fatalities,” said Dan Horvath, vice president of safety policy. “By working together through the National Roadway Safety Strategy, we are committing to a collaborative approach to address highway safety and work toward the common goal of zero highway fatalities.

Dan Horvath, director of safety policy for American Trucking Associations


“ATA is proud to be one of the first organizations answering DOT’s call to action,” Horvath said. “Through our Share the Road program, our Law Enforcement Advisory Board and our ongoing work zone safety awareness campaign, ATA is committing to educate the public about the importance of safely sharing the road with large trucks, practicing safety in construction zones and enhancing the partnership between the trucking industry and law enforcement to address highway safety issues.”

The update report, made public Feb. 3, said, “Although it may take years of sustained effort to realize substantial reductions in lives lost due to traffic crashes, the department, through the [five-year plan], prioritized key actions over the next few years that target our most significant and urgent problems to improve motor vehicle and road traffic safety.

The agency’s “ambitious target” is to reduce 66% of motor vehicle-related fatalities by 2040, the report said. Some 42,915 lives were lost in 2021, an increase of over 10% compared with 2020. The report estimated that in 2021, fatal crashes involving at least one large truck increased 13% over 2020.

“Key to our strategy is recognizing that people make mistakes, and, as good stewards of the transportation system, we should put in place safeguards to prevent those mistakes from being lethal,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg wrote in a preface to the new report. “Success will take a sustained and urgent commitment to protect people and prevent harm by working with the people who build and manage our roads, design our vehicles, and use vehicles as part of their businesses. We need an all-of-America response to address this crisis.”

Some of the specific actions taken the past year by several transportation agencies included:

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• Key rulemakings to advance pedestrian automatic emergency braking for passenger cars and commercial motor vehicles, as well as to advance alcohol-impaired-driving prevention technology.

• Launching a grant program, with 510 communities receiving $800 million in roadway safety funds.

• Issuing a notice to implement State Highway Safety Grants that overhaul behavioral safety grants, helping states effectively target the root causes of traffic fatalities and crashes.

• Published the State Driver Licensing Agency Resource webpage that allows states to track commercial driver license holders who have verified positive test results for controlled substances and/or alcohol, or who have refused to submit to testing.

• Prioritized lighting as part of the new round of innovations under the Every Day Counts initiative to enhance visibility along corridors, intersections and pedestrian crossings.

The DOT report concluded that the agency “believes it is important to be transparent about our progress in implementing key departmental actions, as well renewing our commitment to a future without serious injuries and fatalities on our roadways.”

“Achieving this will not be easy,” the report also said, “however, through a safe system approach supported by significant departmental actions, we are optimistic that working together we can and will save lives, and make our roadways safer for everyone who uses them.”

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