Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day 2012

By Ray LaHood
Each year on October 10, a nationwide network of road safety partners celebrates "Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day" to raise awareness about the causes of highway crashes. This year marks the 11th anniversary of this effort, and I am proud to add my voice to the many safety messages here on the Kansas Department of Transportation's Put the Brakes on Fatalities blog page.
At the US DOT, we have thousands of professionals working every day to improve road safety. Whether it’s our five-star crash test ratings or our use of innovative technology to help drivers avoid accidents altogether, safety is the most important thing we do.
But all of our technological advances alone are not enough to move us toward zero highway fatalities. We need America's motorists to help. We need them to hear safety messages like the entries on this Kansas DOT blog page, and we need them to follow up by driving safely.
Since September 13, each first-person account in this important series has made a valuable point about what everyday drivers and passengers can do to keep themselves and others safe. From the opening post by Carlotta Meeker about how wearing her seat belt saved her life in a devastating crash to the recent entry by Holcomb Fire Chief Bill Knight about the importance of approaching an accident site cautiously to avoid harming emergency workers, the stories in this year's "Put the Brakes on Fatalities" series have been both personal and persuasive.
Now, as this month of Put the Brakes on Fatalities blog posts draws to a close, I'm asking everyone who has read any or all of these stories to do two things. First, take them to heart and let them inform the way you drive. If you don't want to drive more consciously and safely for your own sake, do it for your families and for those who share the road with you.
Do it for Courtney Billinger, whose close friend was killed by a drunk driver. Do it for Jeff Romaine, who just wants to protect his fellow road workers from a senseless work-zone crash, or for Trooper Rick Wingate, who writes about arriving at the scene of yet another fatal texting crash.
Then, share these stories with others and urge them to do the same. The Kansas DOT and all of this year's contributors have done a great job. And when we share these stories, we can help them make a bigger difference in road safety...on Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day and every day.
From all of us here at DOT, thanks to everyone who contributed to the 2012 Kansas DOT safety effort. And many thanks to everyone at KDOT for continuing to lead the way toward zero fatalities.

Ray LaHood is the United States Secretary of Transportation


  1. Every time a person dies, an entire Universe is lost.

    Help save the Universe.

  2. Everyone has stories to tell, some with better outcomes than others as these blogs show. As Secretary Ray LaHood asks, take them to heart and urge others to do the same. Don’t be a story to be told.

  3. Steve Swartz10/10/2012

    Thanks to Secretary LaHood for supporting this safety education effort and many other safety initiatives. Thank you to everyone who blogged during the past month and shared their experiences. Personal stories of close calls, devastating injuries and loss of life make us stop and think about how our lives can be changed in an instant. Everytime we get into a car or truck we need to think about that.

  4. Larry Emig10/10/2012

    Thanks to Secretary LaHood for providing a blog/article for our Kansas "Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day" blog page. We are glad that he took the time to share his thoughts on road safety and write the 20th blog for October 10th, Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day. He included comments on five of our bloggers' articles that not only relate to safety issues in Kansas but in other states. These personal experiences involved safety practices that saved lives and others where lives were lost including one by a drunk driver.

    There can be little doubt that Safety is the U.S Department of Transportation's number one priority. Secretary LaHood stated that every day thousands of professionals in the Department work to improve road safety. It is also important to understand that no matter how safe a road is, as the blog states, drivers must understand and respond to safety messages in order to make a difference and move towards zero highway fatalities. All 20 blogs posted on this page have safety messages which, if followed by drivers, can prevent crashes and save lives.

    In 2001, when the first Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day event was held, over 42,000 fatalities were occurring on American roadways each year. In a May , 2012 Traffic Safety Facts Report, an early estimate by NHTSA indicated that the number of fatalities for 2011 would be slightly over 32,000.

    Secretary LaHood stated that "......safety is the most important thing we do." He should be congratulated for making safety a high priority for all programs in the U.S. Department of Transportation and applauded for promoting road safety during his term in office. Secretary LaHood's leadership has been a factor leading to the downward trend in the number of fatalities. There have also been numerous professionals and many others involved in the four E's (engineering, education, enforcement and emergency services) of road safety along with many drivers who now buckle-up and follow other safety messages that have made a difference. Yes, some progress has been made; but over 32,000 deaths annually (one occurring every 16 minutes) are still too many. We must continue to share our safety messages not only on October 10th, but every day of the year.