The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials recently joined a new national effort launched by the U.S. Department of Transportation to formally adopt the National Roadway Safety Strategy or NRSS in order to reduce fatalities and serious injuries on U.S. highways.
[Above image by AASHTO]
The NRSS – unveiled by USDOT in January 2022 – outlines a “comprehensive approach” to reversing the rise in traffic fatalities and serious injuries on the nation’s highways, roads, and streets.
USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg noted that the NRSS “Call to Action” invites all organizations and individuals to participate and share how they will actively reduce deaths and injuries on the nation’s roadways, expand adoption of the Safe System approach and a zero fatalities vision, and transform how the nation thinks about road safety.
AASHTO, along with two of its members – Washington State Department of Transportation and Missouri Department of Transportation – join a group of “First Movers” that have committed to action to make communities around the country safer.
“AASHTO and its membership are proud to stand with Secretary Buttigieg in his ‘Call to Action’ to deal with the devastating number of roadway fatalities and injuries—a national health crisis we all have a responsibility to remedy,” said AASHTO President and Washington State DOT Secretary Roger Millar, who has identified safety as a key focus area for his one-year term.
“Safety has always been a top priority for AASHTO and state departments of transportation across the country, but it is clear from the rise in fatalities and serious injuries that we all need to do more,” he added in a statement.
“Through this commitment to the NRSS as a ‘First Mover,’ AASHTO redoubles its focus to make sustained, substantial improvement in safety on our nation’s roads toward zero deaths,” Millar said.
[Editor’s note: USDOT Secretary Buttigieg touched on several of those topics during a speech at the AASHTO 2022 Annual Meeting in Orlando.]
To support this commitment, AASHTO said it plans to engage in several key initiatives:
- Conduct a safety summit on incorporating safety more comprehensively throughout state department of transportation activities and the project lifecycle.
- Develop resources to support implementation of the safe system approach throughout all facets of a state DOT’s work and among all staff.
- Update the AASHTO “Green Book” to provide expanded discussions of flexibility in existing design guidelines to more comprehensively address the needs of all road users from environmental, contextual, and community perspectives.
- Advance safety in project decisions through research on safe system implementation, active transportation safety, and data-driven analysis.
- Update the AASHTO “Highway Safety Manual” with additional research-based methods for considering safety impacts of decisions on additional facility types and more comprehensive consideration of pedestrian and bicyclist safety, among other commitments.
- Share among state methods for quantitatively including safety-related equity issues in programming and project decisions.
- Promote a culture of safety across the AASHTO community and within state DOTs.
“State DOTs and AASHTO have been on a long, steady march to improve roadway safety, but progress slowed in the decade before the COVID pandemic,” noted Jim Tymon, AASHTO executive director.
“We then experienced the sharp increase in traffic fatalities during pandemic, which spurred state DOTs to redouble efforts on proven countermeasures and to approach the crisis more holistically,” he added.
“State DOTs play a vital role in reducing roadway fatalities and injuries and we look forward to seeing the progress we can make in this partnership,” he said.