By U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx
I’m proud to once again participate in the Put the Brakes on Fatalities campaign, as I have for the past several years. The folks at KDOT are doing important work highlighting the ways all of us can have a positive impact on safety, and I’m grateful for the platform to share our perspective at the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Safety is always our number one priority. Transportation systems simply don’t work if people can’t get where they need to go. When developing new policies and regulations, and in awarding grants through programs like TIGER and FASTLANE, we are constantly evaluating how each and every project we’re involved in contributes to a safer environment.
We know that we can’t do it alone – we need great partners like KDOT. In fact, many of our recent initiatives have focused on strengthening our partnerships with state and local government that are on the front lines of building and maintaining our transportation infrastructure.
The good news is that with each year, we gain more and more knowledge about what makes for safe communities – from better road design and pavement materials to advanced technologies like vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications.
The challenge is to come together to put these principles into practice. At U.S. DOT, we’ve developed several ongoing initiatives to do just that.
Last year, to help bring together local officials from all over the country to collaborate on these issues, we launched the Mayors’ Challenge for Safer People and Safer Streets. Over 200 cities have answered the call to identify and address barriers to safety, committing to a “Complete Streets” approach that makes every trip by every citizen a safe one – whether in a car, on foot, or by bicycle, and especially for those with special mobility needs.
This week, on September 16, we’re hosting the first-ever Safer People, Safer Streets Summit at U.S. DOT headquarters in Washington, D.C. This summit will bring together Mayors’ Challenge participants and other experts and stakeholders from across the country to share best practices and discuss the future of safe streets.
We’ve also gone out into communities across America to both share our knowledge and learn from the people most impacted by transportation projects.
Our Every Place Counts Design Challenge identified four places where highways and other infrastructure have historically served as a barrier to many communities – preventing people from being able to walk from neighborhood to neighborhood or otherwise travel safely.
U.S. DOT design experts met with state and local officials and community stakeholders for intensive two-day sessions to reimagine existing infrastructure, figuring out together how it can be rebuilt or repurposed to improve safety and accessibility for all.
Our Every Day Counts initiative also helps states and localities bring innovative practices to their highway infrastructure, enabling life-saving ideas like road diets, high-performance road materials, and data-driven safety analysis.
Going forward, there will be many opportunities to integrate new technologies into transportation to vastly improve safety. U.S. DOT will continue to develop guidance on automated vehicles and other innovations that reduce the risk of collisions.
Someday, perhaps sooner than we think, all of our cars may well drive themselves – communicating with each other and surrounding infrastructure to make crashes a thing of the past.
But until that day comes, each of us has a responsibility to prioritize safety at all times. The personal stories you’ll read in this year’s Put the Brakes on Fatalities series will drive that point home better than I ever could.
Together, I’m confident that we can make safer streets a reality for our kids, and for generations to come.