Transport Stakeholders Highlight Safety Efforts
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During President Joe Biden’s tenure, safety has anchored the agenda at the Department of Transportation.
A massive effort advanced by Secretary Pete Buttigieg outlines a framework for improving the safety of commuter and commercial mobility corridors. A national strategy, celebrating contributions from stakeholders while outlining the policy road ahead, has been regaining mainstream attention.
The transportation community is unified in pursuing a decrease in the number of fatalities on the roadways. Recent data estimated about 43,000 individuals traveling on highways were involved in fatal crashes.
Joung Lee, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ chief policy director, recently reflected on the state of transportation safety.
“Are we able to do more in terms of looking at just every aspect of how you improve safety?” Lee said during a wide-ranging interview with Transport Topics’ Newsmakers on April 28.
“Whether it’s safer people — right — and driver behavior, but safer vehicles, safer speeds, safer roads,” Lee continued, “all those elements have to really be strengthened, again in partnership with all the constituents in the space. This isn’t just a state DOT thing. This is, again, working with our local partners, working with our safety advocates.”
Earlier this year, AASHTO joined transportation stakeholders in affirming commitments to support DOT’s National Roadway Safety Strategy. The group emphasized it is “promoting a culture of safety across the AASHTO community and within state DOTs “as well as “disseminating leading practices and tools to support state DOTs in accelerating enhancements to their programs and procedures for improved safety.”
“ATA shares DOT’s commitment to the goal of zero highway fatalities,” ATA Vice President of Safety Policy Dan Horvath said in February. “By working together through the National Roadway Safety Strategy, we are committing to a collaborative approach to address highway safety and work towards the common goal of zero highway fatalities.”
According to background information USDOT provided, “ATA’s Share the Road program commits to conducting highway safety outreach to at least 100 schools and public events about the importance of sharing the road safely with large trucks. ATA’s Law Enforcement Advisory Board will continue to enhance the relationship between the trucking industry and law enforcement, resulting in the shared goal of highway safety for all road users.”
The National Safety Council also expressed its commitment to improve “safety outcomes in underserved communities by providing access to safety information and data to support transportation safety efforts in underserved communities. NSC will also work to improve child passenger safety, improve outreach to eliminate distracted driving, improve consumer understanding of vehicle safety technology, and improve novice driver outcomes by working with parents and caregivers, including translating materials into a third language.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently announced that 42,795 individuals died in 2022. Their estimate, unveiled last month, relied on data about people involved in motor vehicle traffic crashes. The data is a slight decrease from 2021’s estimate of 42,939.
Buttigieg, reacting to NHTSA’s estimate, highlighted the department’s safety policy plan. “Through our National Roadway Safety Strategy,” the secretary said, “we’re strengthening traffic safety across the country and working toward a day when these preventable tragedies are a thing of the past.”
Per USDOT, “The National Roadway Safety Strategy was released in January 2022 following an unacceptable increase of 6.8% in motor vehicle and road traffic fatalities in 2020 compared to 2019. Roadway fatalities and the fatality rate declined consistently for 30 years, but progress has stalled over the past decade and went in the wrong direction in 2020 and 2021.”
“An estimated 42,915 lives were lost on U.S. roads in 2021, an increase of over 10% compared to 2020,” the department stated. “Early estimates for the first nine months of 2022 indicate deaths will remain near those levels in 2022, while getting worse for incidents involving trucks as well as people walking, biking or rolling.”
The Week Ahead (all times Eastern)
May 2, 9:30 a.m.: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee meets for a hearing to examine the White House’s fiscal 2024 budget request for the U.S. Department of the Interior.
May 3, 10 a.m.: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee examines water infrastructure policy. Watch the hearing here.
Freight policy updates: The GAO recommends.
The trucking industry is applauding Senate passage of an effort to roll back federal emission standards associated with heavy-duty commercial vehicles.
By a 50-49 vote April 26, a Republican-led joint resolution specifically targeted Environmental Protection Agency regulations that set certain new standards for trucking emissions. This legislative effort, initiated in February, gained strong backing from senior Republicans who argued the new regulations would disrupt supply chain connectivity and exacerbate inflation.
“As families suffer under the burden of high inflation, the last thing we need are more expensive freight costs and fewer truckers. Today, the Senate took bipartisan action to stop yet another aggressive Biden regulation that would drive up costs for consumers, increase vehicle costs and hurt good-paying jobs,” said Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), the measure’s lead sponsor.
At a House transportation subcommittee hearing featuring Secretary Buttigieg on April 20, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) observed: “We need to make sure that the programs under your leadership effectively serve the taxpaying public. This includes common-sense regulatory reform to reduce burdens on state, local and tribal governments. It also means that we need to continue looking at ways to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse across all programs.”
A deep dive on freight trains.
Safety is the No. 1 priority.
Accountability for freight railroad corporations must get stronger, not weaker.
It's time to deliver strong rail safety legislation to the President's desk. pic.twitter.com/DTsdwYdkjG — Secretary Pete Buttigieg (@SecretaryPete) April 26, 2023
The Last Word
Reducing the impact that truck emissions have on neighboring communities will help improve the health and well-being of port workers.
Federal Highway Administration Chief Shailen Bhatt on April 27Image
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