Best way to Put the Brakes on Fatalities? One safe choice at a time

By Anthony Foxx

Before I get too far into my own “Put the Brakes on Fatalities” message, I want to thank KDOT for hosting this incredible series every year and for their clear commitment to road safety.
At the U.S. Department of Transportation, we share that commitment. Safety is our number one priority. Always has been; always will be.
And safety isn't just part of my job description. Safety was a priority for me when I was Mayor of Charlotte and a child who was walking with her mother was struck by a car and killed. It’s a priority for me as a father and husband. And it’s a priority for me as a driver, a bicyclist, and a pedestrian who has seen firsthand the need for greater safety.
As many readers might know, I was once hit by a car while jogging in Charlotte.
So when I talk about safety on our nation’s roads it's not in some abstract way. When I talk about safety, I'm talking about safety on the roads in my actual neighborhood, and in your actual neighborhood.  Greater safety in the very real neighborhoods where our kids play and where our daily commutes begin and end.
I’m talking about safety from the ground up and not the top down. Which is what makes this “Put the Brakes on Fatalities” series, with its many personal stories, so effective.
As Secretary of Transportation, I know full well that it’s important for large organizations to advance safety in all the ways that large organizations can.
For example, at DOT, we’re nurturing development of Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication technologies so we can reduce the impact of human error on road safety. And we’re supporting implementation of pavement surfaces and other roadway technologies to boost safety. We also conduct a wide range of crash-testing to encourage manufacturers to increase the occupant protection their vehicles provide.
We know that working with the Kansas Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies across the country helps save lives by getting folks to drive sober, put away their texting devices, and buckle up. So we do that.
And when we can fund safer infrastructure, we do that, too.
But safety also increases when you and I make our own individual safe choices, when our kids see us making those choices, and when we encourage others to make similar choices.
We increase safety on our roads when we put on bike helmets. We do it when we drive our kids to soccer practice on the weekend and make sure they see us buckling our seat belts before we put the car into gear. We do it when we're crossing an intersection on foot without having our noses in our smartphones.
How do we Put the Brakes on Fatalities? One safe choice at a time.

Anthony Foxx is the United States Secretary of Transportation



  1. Steve Swartz10/10/2014

    Thanks to Secretary Foxx for participating in the PBFD blog series. It's an honor to have you among this year's excellent bloggers. You touch on maybe the most important thing we can do to encourage safe driving habits - don't just tell others how to be safe. . . show them by making your own safe choices.

  2. Anonymous10/10/2014

    That's scary that you got hit by a car. It shows that it can happen to anyone at any time and that we need to make safe choices every time we travel, whether by car, bike, motorcycle or on foot.

  3. Kirk Hutchinson10/10/2014

    Well said, sir. Safety is about people. It's about our friends and our families. It's about us.

  4. Secretary Foxx is right: safety is our number one priority. That is true not only for USDOT employees, but for civil engineers as well. At ASCE, safety is instrumental in the mission that we have as civil engineers to help build a better quality of life which is why both we and the secretary recognize the importance of “Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day.” The Transportation and Development Institute (T&DI) of ASCE has for the last several years organized efforts around “Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day” and I am pleased to see how interest in this program continues to grow.

    Our nation has made great strides in recent years in reducing the number of fatalities on the roadways; however our current policies do not go far enough in addressing the need to reduce fatalities and serious injuries. In addition to the human cost, there is also a large economic price for failing to adequately address safety. Just this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that injuries related to motor vehicle accidents cost about $18 billion in lifetime medical costs, and that’s not to mention the costs in lost productivity and vehicle damages.

    A few common-sense safety items that ASCE is advocating for at the federal level include improving traffic crash data systems; applying roadway safety audits to identify hazards and safety improvement opportunities; implementing median barriers, roundabouts and other engineering-related countermeasures proven effective in reducing the potential for, and severity of, traffic crashes; and supporting highway safety research and the inclusion of highway safety issues in educational programs for transportation engineers and other professionals.

    We should be under no illusion that America can significantly reduce the severity of traffic crashes for free - there is a direct financial cost associated with saving lives and reducing injuries. Which is why it is vitally important to increase overall investment for surface transportation, and I thank Secretary Foxx for championing the Administration’s bill, the GROW America Act, which does exactly that. Over the last year, ASCE has been urging Congress to immediately provide additional funding for transportation in order to get the program on firm footing and deliver tangible results, such as a decrease in transportation-related fatalities, for the American people. Designing and delivering projects with safety as a top priority and urging policymakers to improve safety outcomes has and will continue to be a mission that ASCE views as core to our work and to our success as a professional society.

    -- Patrick J. Natale, P.E., F.ASCE, FASAE, CAE, Executive Director of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)

  5. The scary thing is, traffic crashes are so close to everyone. No matter where you are, chances are that you know someone, perhaps someone very close to you, who was involved in a vehicle accident. I used to work in a building right next to one of the busiest freeways in the city. Every once a while, we could hear a big "bang" sound from the office window and no surprise, it was an accident on the freeway. Just a couple of months ago, my friend's car got totaled in a multi-vehicle accident. Secretary Foxx is right: one safe choice a time. Please, put the phone away next time when you need to call someone while driving. Leave a little earlier next time when you think you can get there in time if drive a little faster. Wear that seat belt!

    Yingfeng (Eric) Li, Ph.D., P.E., M.A.S.C.E.

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