WASHINGTON – The Department of Transportation is embarking on a national strategy to address rising traffic deaths using new funding in a $1 trillion infrastructure law, solve problems from speed limits and street lighting to emergency medical care.
In a 38-page report released Thursday, the department outlined an approach that relies heavily on working with states and local governments to tackle things like safer road design. and reduce alcohol driving. The department also said it would issue federal guidance and create new programs to implement the strategy, such as beginning to develop a rule to require automatic emergency braking technology on passenger vehicles. new guests.
The report comes as the number of traffic deaths across the country has skyrocketed, reversing some of the progress made over the past few decades. Despite fewer people on the roads at the start of the pandemic, about 38,680 people will die in motor vehicle crashes in 2020, an increase of about 2,500 from 2019 and the death toll rising further in first half of 2021. Officials have blamed many for reckless speeding and alcohol and drug use in response to pandemic-related stress.
But the report also raises questions about how the federal government will implement the strategy. The report called the nation’s road network “very complex” and pointed out that states and local governments have “a significant degree of autonomy” to make decisions about design, location and funding. Construct a road. The decentralized system has resulted in “different outcomes across localities and parts of the system, and further complicates the context for addressing road safety,” according to the report.
A senior department official said implementation of the programs would begin on Thursday, and many of the initiatives have targeted completion dates in 2024.
Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, points to the grants in the infrastructure package over which his department has extensive control. Although most of the funding is Direct distribution to the statesThis package includes competitive grants that are overseen by the federal government, such as the Safe Roads and Roads for All programs, a $6 billion new initiative aimed at reducing traffic deaths.
“We have to look at what is working and elevate the communities and jurisdictions that are performing best, in addition to finding performance measures and expectations that will keep those who are not keeping up. must be held accountable,” Buttigieg said in an interview.
The secretary said the strategy signals the department’s commitment to safety, which he calls its top priority.
“The key thing here is to first commit to the idea that only zero road deaths will be accepted, and then align all of our resources around that.” Mr. Buttigieg said.
Mr Buttigieg said many communities are still living with the consequences of roads built with a “50s or 60s mentality” that roads were built with the “sole purpose of promoting vehicle traffic through”. as fast as possible”. Those communities can take a “speed-healthy approach,” he said, by redesigning roads, modifying speed limits and installing speed bumps.
The report is broken down into five goals: safer people, safer roads, safer vehicles, safer speeds, and post-collision care. It calls on states and local governments to support research and development of technology to detect and prevent drug and alcohol driving. It also directs the Federal Highway Administration to revise guidelines to encourage safer speeds and the use of speed cameras.
Reducing traffic deaths could also reduce historical racial disparities. The report highlights the disproportionate number of motor vehicle deaths, disproportionately affecting people of color. In 2020, the rate of traffic deaths among Blacks has increased by 23% year over year, According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Meanwhile, the rate of road traffic deaths among whites increased by 4% during the same time period.
The department says its safety strategy is also crucial to tackling the climate crisis. Improving road safety can help achieve greenhouse gas reduction goals by increasing transit use and making streets safer for pedestrians, according to the report.
Pedestrian and cyclist deaths have increased faster than overall road deaths over the past decade, which has an impact on climate-friendly transportation options, the report said. like walking, cycling or taking public transport,” the report said. “To harness the climate benefits of those regimes, we need street and street systems that feel safe and secure for all road users.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/27/us/politics/dot-traffic-deaths-plan.html Department of Transportation outlines plan to tackle rising traffic deaths