During a presentation at the 2023 Safety Summit hosted by the American Association of State Highway Officials in Kansas City, MO, Shailen Bhatt (above) – administrator of the Federal Highway Administrator – said that while “states are doing a great job” in terms of their efforts to improve highway safety, “we just need them to do more.”
[Above photo by AASHTO]
In his remarks, Bhatt asked the state department of transportation executives and personnel gathered at the summit for three things: Increase implementation of proven safety countermeasures; use a data-driven approach to identify which countermeasures have the most life-saving potential in your state and then install more of them; display courage and leadership to push forward with those safety improvements.
“This is not the time to err on the side of caution; it is a time to err on the side of safety,” he explained. “This is a heavy, heavy topic – it is hard to talk about. Because every [roadway] fatality represents moments of terror and pain – we cannot forget about them, because these are people, not numbers. But I believe we are really now able to get on the path to zero [roadway fatalities].”
Bhatt pointed to a variety of what FHWA calls “proven safety countermeasures” in his speech that state DOTs can implement now to help reduce roadway fatalities and injuries: Highway median barriers, rumble strips, roundabouts, managing corridor access, speed safety cameras, variable speed limits, sidewalks, and protected bicycle lanes, just to name a few.
“Proactive implementation of proven safety countermeasures can move us towards zero fatalities,” Bhatt said. “These are things our [division offices] can help you implement. There is so much we can do together. For it will take all of us together to solve this crisis.”