May 23, 2022
Keeping Safety Top of Mind
At ITS America, safety is our top priority. With increasing fatality rates on U.S roadways, everyone has a role to play to keep people safe, and we are working to integrate technology into our transportation system to help reduce and eventually eliminate roadway fatalities. It is more important than ever that we make strong commitments to invest in transportation technologies that help save lives.
We have a fatality crisis on our roads – over the last two years, crashes and fatalities have been setting the wrong kinds of records. Just last week, NHTSA projected a devastating 16-year high in roadway fatalities – an estimated 42,915 people died in crashes last year, a 10.5% increase from 2020 and the highest number since 2005. We must look beyond traditional methods to reverse this trend.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Transportation released a new road safety strategy, and in his introduction, Secretary Buttigieg said “the status quo is unacceptable, and it is preventable.”This new strategy represents a welcome shift in that the Department has adopted the safe system approach, and one of the key principles is that roadway safety is a shared responsibility. We fully support this, as do many transportation stakeholders – it focuses on five key objectives: safer people, safer roads, safer vehicles, safer speeds, and post-crash care. We have a responsibility to use all the tools at our disposal to save as many lives as we can. Connected and automated vehicle technologies, in addition to driver-assist technologies and a host of other ITS solutions will help us move toward zero deaths and must be incorporated into all elements of a safe systems approach.
One of the most anticipated programs in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) is Safe Streets for All (SS4A), which supports the Department’s comprehensive approach. It provides $5 billion in appropriated funds over the next five years and up to $1B in fiscal year 2022 in dedicated funding to support regional, local, and Tribal initiatives plans, projects, and strategies to prevent roadway deaths and serious injuries. Last week, USDOT released the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to solicit the first round of grant applications. From the NOFO: “Funds for the fiscal year 2022 SS4A grant program are to be awarded on a competitive basis to support planning, infrastructure, behavioral, and operational initiatives to prevent death and serious injury on roads and streets involving all roadway users, including pedestrians; bicyclists; public transportation, personal conveyance, and micromobility users; motorists; and commercial vehicle operators.” The deadline for applications is 5 pm EDT on September 15, 2022. This is a terrific opportunity for ITS America members to demonstrate how technology can be instrumental in improving safety for all users. If you are interested in learning more about this program, please tune into our Friday policy calls, where we share all the latest information related to IIJA programs and implementation. To join those calls, please email email@example.com.
In the previous issue of Momentum, ITS America President & CEO Laura Chace wrote about a new age of digital infrastructure that links the physical transportation system to a digital layer – given the record number of those who lost their lives on U.S. roads, physical infrastructure improvements alone will not solve this crisis.
Memorial Day is almost here – it is a time to remember those who gave their lives in service to our country. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most dangerous holiday weekends to be traveling on our roads. As we approach the summer travel season, let’s also remember those we have lost on our roads – and their families – and redouble our efforts to ensure that the future of transportation is about using technology and innovation to advance mobility that is safer, greener, smarter, and more equitable.