U.S. DOT plans increased safety measures after latest findings

October 29, 2021

SJ Munoz

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Similar to the first quarter, the first half of 2021 saw a spike in traffic fatalities, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Oct. 28.

These findings showed the largest increase over a six-month period ever recorded with an estimated 20,160 fatalities in motor vehicle crashes, which is more than 18% higher than 2020. The total is the largest number of traffic fatalities in the first half of a year since 2006.

“This is a crisis,” United States Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a U.S. DOT news release. “We cannot and should not accept these fatalities as simply part of everyday life in America.”

The data does not include a breakdown of the number of traffic fatalities involving heavy-duty trucks. However, crashes involving large trucks actually decreased by 2% in 2020.

The NHTSA data also included behavioral research results from March 2020 through June 2021, which showed incidents of speeding and traveling without a seat belt remain higher than were reported prior to COVID-19.

“The report is sobering,” NHTSA Deputy Administrator Steven Cliff said in the U.S. DOT news release. “It’s also a reminder of what hundreds of millions of people can do every day, right now, to combat this: slow down, wear seat belts, drive sober and avoid distractions behind the wheel. All of us must work together to stop aggressive, dangerous driving and help prevent fatal crashes.”

In an effort to address traffic fatality issues, Buttigieg announced the U.S. DOT’s first National Roadway Safety Strategy.

“No one will accomplish this alone,” Buttigieg said in the news release. “It will take all levels of government, industries, advocates, engineers and communities across the country working together toward the day when family members no longer have to say goodbye to loved ones because of a traffic crash.”

The National Roadway Safety Strategy will put forth a comprehensive set of actions to significantly reduce serious injuries and deaths on roadways. It will take a concerted effort across all levels of government, the private sector and communities to reverse this current trend. The strategy, which is expected to be released in January, will be rooted in the Safe System Approach principles.

In advance, the Federal Highway Administration has accelerated the Focused Approach to Safety and the Proven Safety Countermeasures programs.

“FHWA is committed to a Safe System Approach and to working closely with local and state transportation agencies to make every road that is designed or built with federal funds safe for everyone who uses it,” Action Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack said in a news release.

For more information on these supported programs visit https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/provencountermeasures/ or https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/fas/. LL

SJ Munoz is the newest edition to the Land Line Media team. He brings a variety of skills to the job as he has experience as a reporter, photographer and in radio. He’s also written for Omaha Magazine, the Lawrence Journal-World, and PrepsKC.com.