Here’s a preview from the Letter from the Secretary:
Our priority at the Department of Transportation is to make our transportation system safe for all people. Right now, we face a crisis on our roadways. Almost 95 percent of our Nation’s transportation deaths occur on America’s streets, roads, and highways, and they are on the rise. An estimated 38,680 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2020. In the first half of 2021, an estimated 20,160 people died, up 18.4 percent compared to the first six months of 2020. And every year, millions more are seriously and often permanently injured. Those lost are our family members, our friends, our colleagues, our neighbors. They are the people who build, maintain, and fix our roads. They are the people who deliver critical goods, and those who risk their own lives to keep us safe.
The status quo is unacceptable, and it is preventable. We know it’s preventable because bold cities in the United States, and countries abroad, have achieved tremendous reductions in roadway deaths. We cannot accept such terrible losses here. Americans deserve to travel safely in their communities. Humans make mistakes, and as good stewards of the transportation system, we should have in place the safeguards to prevent those mistakes from being fatal. Zero is the only acceptable number of deaths and serious injuries on our roadways.
This National Roadway Safety Strategy describes the major actions we will take to make a meaningful difference over the next few years. At the core of this strategy is a Department-wide adoption of the Safe System Approach, which focuses on five key objectives: safer people, safer roads, safer vehicles, safer speeds, and post-crash care. We will launch new programs, coordinate and improve existing programs, and adopt a foundational set of principles to guide this strategy.
One of the Safe System Approach principles is that roadway safety is a shared responsibility. We applaud those who have already committed to zero roadway fatalities and serious injuries, and understand that no one will achieve this goal alone. While U.S. DOT has many tools at its disposal and will shoulder our responsibility, this must be a coordinated effort with our stakeholders across the public sector, private sector, advocacy, and research communities. It will take a sustained, urgent, yet lasting commitment from the people who build and manage our roads, construct our motor vehicles, and use vehicles as part of their businesses to support actions that protect people and prevent harm.
The traveling public also has a role to play. Each of us uses our roads almost every day, whether as a motorist, a passenger, or someone walking, biking, or rolling. Our actions should prioritize safety first. Always.
Thank you for your commitment to saving lives on our roadways.