Safety at FHWA
After decades of declines, roadway fatalities escalated in 2020. 38,824 people lost their lives on American roads in 2020—the highest number since 2007. Although this crisis affects us all, some road users are impacted more than others. Pedestrian fatalities are up 3.9% (the highest number since 1989), and bicyclist fatalities are up 9.2% (the highest number since 1987). In addition, traffic crashes disproportionately impact people who are Black, American Indian, or live in rural communities.
This loss of life on our roads is a national crisis that is both unacceptable and preventable. Zero is the only acceptable number of deaths on the Nation’s roads, and the Federal Highway Administration is committed to this ambitious and shared goal.
FHWA is collaboratively advancing the implementation of the National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS)—the U.S. DOT’s comprehensive plan to significantly reduce serious injuries and fatalities on America’s roads. This strategy embraces a Safe System Approach, which builds multiple layers of protection around road users and is based on the reality that although people make mistakes, those mistakes do not have to be fatal.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) provides an unprecedented level of resources to improve roadway safety. Recognizing the critical role that the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) plays as part of the Federal response to save lives on our Nation’s roads, BIL substantially increased HSIP funding for States. This increase will translate into additional road safety projects in communities throughout America. However, HSIP alone will not achieve the goal of zero fatalities on our Nation’s roads. Safety should be prioritized in all funding programs, not just HSIP. Every transportation project is an opportunity to improve safety.
The three FHWA units that lead the agency in achieving its strategic goals for roadway safety are the Office of Safety, the Office of Safety and Operations Research and Development, and the Resource Center Safety and Design Technical Service Team. These three units work together to execute three key strategies informed by the Safe System Approach: promote excellence in safety programs, research and advance effective safety solutions, and fortify partnerships and outreach.
Getting to zero will take a sustained, urgent, and lasting commitment from partners inside and outside the U.S. DOT. FHWA is committed to leading a coordinated effort with stakeholders across the public sector, the private sector, and the advocacy and research communities to eliminate fatalities on our Nation’s roads.