Safety pros in the transportation industry or who have drivers on the payroll take note – the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced a National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS) to combat the rise in traffic fatalities.
The NRSS will use a Safe System Approach – a method that builds and reinforces multiple layers of protection – to both prevent crashes and minimize harm if a crash does occur.
This approach acknowledges human mistakes and vulnerability, and “designs a redundant system to protect everyone by preventing crashes and ensuring that if they do occur they do not result in serious injury or death,” the DOT states in its Jan. 27 announcement.
Transportation incidents remained the most frequent type of fatal workplace incident, even through the pandemic, with 1,778 fatalities accounting for 37.3% of all workplace fatalities in 2020, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Long-term goal = zero roadway fatalities
To address the rise in fatal crashes, the NRSS will use a five-pronged model to address safety:
- safer people
- safer roads
- safer vehicles
- safer speeds, and
- post-crash care.
This effort is being funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law with the NRSS being considered “the first step in working toward an ambitious long-term goal of reaching zero roadway fatalities.”
The NRSS will see the DOT:
- working with states and local road owners to build and maintain safer roadway through efforts, including updates to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices; a Complete Streets Initiative to provide technical assistance to communities of all sizes; and speed limit setting
- leveraging technology to improve the safety of motor vehicles, including rulemaking on automatic emergency braking and pedestrian automatic emergency braking, and updates to the New Car Assessment Program, and
- investing in road safety through funding in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including a new $6 billion Safe Streets and Roads for All program, hundreds of millions for behavioral research and interventions, and $4 billion in additional funding for the Highway Safety Improvement Program.
Agencies, organizations show their support
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a statement supporting the NRSS.
“FMCSA is committed to reducing commercial motor vehicle fatalities and overall fatalities. We will work across the department to coordinate proactive compliance and outreach programs and work collaboratively with all stakeholders,” said FMCSA Executive Director and Chief Safety Officer Jack Van Steenburg.
The National Safety Council (NSC) also expressed its support.
“NSC has long advocated for the importance of a Safe System Approach and applauds the department’s aggressive plan to reverse the alarming trends in roadway fatalities we’ve seen in recent years,” said NSC president and CEO Lorraine Martin.