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Transportation Department outlines strategy to reduce traffic deaths

By Simon Druker
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Transportation Department outlines strategy to reduce traffic deaths
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg outlined the Department of Transportation's new strategy Thursday to combat rising traffic fatalities in the United States. File Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 27 (UPI) -- The Department of Transportation is targeting traffic fatalities, and will use federal infrastructure funding to implement a new strategy outlined Thursday.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg detailed the 42-page National Roadway Safety Strategy, which contains five objectives.

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Almost 95% of transportation-related deaths occur on streets, roads and highways, and they are on the rise, according to the report.

"The rate of roadway fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled has not substantially improved over the last 10 years, and increased significantly in 2020," states the report.

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An estimated 38,680 people died on U.S. roads in 2020, the report points out. More than 350,000 people died from roadway transportation incidents between 2011 and 2020.

The strategy has a goal of achieving zero traffic fatalities, and adopts the principles that death and serious injuries are unacceptable, that humans make mistakes, and that safety is proactive, among others.

"People will inevitably make mistakes and decisions that can lead or contribute to crashes, but the transportation system can be designed and operated to accommodate certain types and levels of human mistakes, and avoid death and serious injuries when a crash occurs," the report states.

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Under the strategy, "the department will focus on advancing infrastructure design and interventions that will significantly enhance roadway safety," according to the report, which also emphasizes that a one-size-fits-all approach to road design and construction does not work.

Money will come from the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

The department will work with states and local road owners to build and maintain safer roadways. Those initiatives include updates to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices; a Complete Streets Initiative to provide technical assistance to communities of all sizes; and speed limit setting.

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"We cannot tolerate the continuing crisis of roadway deaths in America. These deaths are preventable, and that's why we're launching the National Roadway Safety Strategy today -- a bold, comprehensive plan, with significant new funding from President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. We will work with every level of government and industry to deliver results, because every driver, passenger, and pedestrian should be certain that they're going to arrive at their destination safely, every time," Buttigieg said in a statement.

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