USDOT Unveils Broad Pedestrian Safety Action Plan

The U.S. Department of Transportation issued what it is calling a “first-of-its-kind” Pedestrian Safety Action Plan on November 23 – a plan that will be overseen by the Federal Highway Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

[Above photo via the FHWA.]

“This unprecedented comprehensive safety effort is focused solely on protecting pedestrians because crossing a street should not be lethal for thousands of adults and children every year,” noted U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in a statement – adding that USDOT’s plan will promote the expanded use of countermeasures, technology, and data-driven practices to address pedestrian fatalities and injuries.

According to NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, pedestrians comprised 17 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2019. In 2019 – the most recent year in which data is available – 6,205 pedestrians died in traffic crashes, which is 44 percent more compared to 2010.

Photo by the Oregon DOT

The USDOT noted that pedestrian fatalities are largely a phenomenon in urban areas during dark conditions, typically increasing in the fall and winter months – analysis that dovetails with findings from a report issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association in February.

The USDOT also designated October this year as the first-ever National Pedestrian Safety Month  – and, concurrently, many state departments of transportation highlighted their efforts at the state level to improve pedestrian safety.

The USDOT also initiated a national series of “stakeholder discussions” in July regarding pedestrian safety, with the FHWA launching “STEP UP” –short for “Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian” – in June to help states make roads safer for everyone.

FHWA’s Nicole Nason. Photo by MoDOT.

“Reducing pedestrian fatalities is a team effort that requires collaboration between federal, state and local transportation leaders,” noted Nicole Nason, FHWA administrator.

“We need safer roads, and this plan provides a road map to get us there,” she added.

“At some point in the day, we are all pedestrians – especially right now, when everyone wants to get outside for some fresh air,” added NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens.  “Everyone has a role to play in ensuring pedestrian safety and this Pedestrian Safety Action Plan will help communities, drivers, and pedestrians take steps to save lives.”

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