DOT Works to Reduce Traffic Fatalities
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic fatalities in 2021 were estimated to be around 43,000, which is a 10.5% increase from an already high prior year.
This news has led to the Secretary of the Department of Transportation to tweet about how safety standards on the road should be closer to what they are in the air.
We live in an era when it is safer to fly in an airplane 30,000 feet above the ground than it is to walk down the street.— Secretary Pete Buttigieg (@SecretaryPete) October 15, 2022
We must do everything we can to cut fatalities on our nation's roadways.
This has convinced the DOT to apply what it calls the “Safe System Approach.”
Safe System Approach
The Safe System Approach, according to USDOT, is a holistic approach of looking at traffic from every angle to both prevent accidents from occuring and minimizing damage if they do.
Transportation is carried out in numerous ways on America’s roads, whether that be by Class 8 truck, sedan, or by bicycle. Part of the Safe System Approach is to keep different forms of transportation segregated, as traffic conditions become more dangerous when they mix (for example, pedestrians crossing an expressway). Bike lanes are a basic example of this, but having them directly on the same road as cars and trucks leads to the potential for disaster, and USDOT is considering implementing what it calls “Complete Streets” so that people can safely traverse them by any valid mode of transportation, be it foot, bicycle, or motor vehicle.
Last year’s $1 trillion spending law for infrastructure has dedicated funds for reaching USDOT’s goal of zero traffic casualties in a given year. While such a goal is likely impossible, reducing the number to double-digits may not be so, and would be a far cry from 43,000 as experienced in 2021.
There may exist people who would argue the Department of Transportation’s primary objective is not safety, but those people are few and far between. We hope that the DOT’s methods to making common streets safer does not come at a cost to truckers, and may even help with the development of autonomous trucks, which currently have a hard time traveling on roads that are not highways. Only time will tell what happens next, but one thing is for sure: the DOT now has some spending money to make things happen!
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