FHWA’s Bhatt: More State Leadership on Safety Needed

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.

FHWA’s Shailen Bhatt (center) with state DOT CEOs at the 2023 AASHTO Safety Summit. Photo by AASHTO.

“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.”

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