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What Is the National Roadway Safety Strategy?

On January 28, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) unveiled its new policy designed to reduce roadway fatalities, which have spiked over the past couple of years. The numbers are alarming. According to crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • More than 370,000 people died in transportation incidents over the last decade (2011-2020) in the United States. More than 350,000 of them died on our roads.
  • An estimated 38,680 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2020, of which an estimated 6,236
  • were people walking.
  • In the first six months of 2021 an estimated 20,160 people died in motor vehicle crashes, up 18.4 percent over 2020–the largest number of projected fatalities for January through June since 2006.
  • Since 2015, the annual number of fatalities has exceeded 35,000.

Named the National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS), the plan combines efforts to protect both passengers and drivers as well as those outside of vehicles during a crash, while striving to eliminate crashes from occurring in the first place. Ultimately, the aim is to reach zero roadway deaths.

Some of the plan’s highlights include:

  • Including technology in vehicles that can detect impaired drivers.
  • Collaborating with states to pilot automated safety enforcement programs (speed cameras, for example).
  • Updating federal safety ratings so they factor in pedestrian protection and active safety systems, as well as increased crash protection for occupants.
  • Encouraging cities and towns to redesign existing roadways to encourage slower speeds, in addition to enforcing speed limits.
  • Adding information about advanced driver assistance systems to vehicle window stickers.
  • Requiring all new passenger vehicles to include automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection.
  • Investigating emerging safety issues in a timely manner related to the deployment of new technologies.
  • Upgrading requirements for rear-impact guards on tractor trailers to better prevent passenger vehicles from getting wedged beneath them in a rear-end accident.

At the heart of the NRSS, a lengthy and thorough policy is what the U.S. DOT calls the Safe System Approach, which follows these principles:

  1. Death and serious injuries are unacceptable when using transportation.
  2. Humans make mistakes, but the transportation system should accommodate certain levels of human error in order to avoid death and serious injuries.
  3. Humans are vulnerable, and a transportation system should take into account human vulnerability and physical limits for tolerating crash forces before death or serious injury occurs.
  4. Responsibility is shared, meaning everyone plays a part in preventing roadway tragedies.
  5. Safety is proactive, therefore proactive tools should be employed to identify and address safety concerns in the transportation system before crashes occur, not after.
  6. Redundancy is critical, meaning that the transportation system needs to be strengthened to the point that if one component fails, the other parts still protect people.

Check out our next blog to learn about the Safe System Approach, which focuses on five key components. And if you or a loved one is injured in an auto accident, call The Lapidus Law Firm for all of your legal guidance and support. We are committed to making justice work for you.

Written by Larry Lapidus, Washington, DC & Maryland Personal Injury Attorney

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