Implementing the National Roadway Safety Strategy
U.S. DOT is committed to the ambitious long-term goal of reaching zero roadway fatalities and has adopted the Safe System Approach to help address the crisis on our roadways. The Safe System Approach is the guiding paradigm of the National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS), and we are dedicated to implementing the actions outlined in the NRSS to move us closer to our zero deaths goal.
Why Is This a Crisis?
Over many decades, the United States has experienced reductions in roadway fatalities through successful interventions like the widespread use of seat belts and air bags in motor vehicles, effective State laws such as a 0.08 or lower blood alcohol concentration limit to reduce impaired driving, and consistent improvement of roadway design and traffic operation practices.
Roadway fatalities declined consistently for 30 years, but progress stalled over the last decade and is moving in the wrong direction. In 2021, 42,939 lives were lost on U.S. roads, and early estimates for 2022 show similar numbers of people – 42,795 – dying on our roadways.
U.S. Roadway Deaths over Time: Moving in the Wrong Direction
What Is U.S. DOT Doing about Roadway Fatalities?
In response to this crisis, U.S. DOT adopted a Safe System Approach as the guiding paradigm to address roadway safety. The Safe System Approach holistically builds and reinforces multiple layers of protection to both prevent crashes from happening in the first place, and minimize the harm caused to those involved when crashes do occur.
Safe System Approach
The National Roadway Safety Strategy is arranged around five complementary objectives corresponding to the Safe System Approach elements:
Encourage safe, responsible driving and behavior by people who use our roads and create conditions that prioritize their ability to reach their destination unharmed.
Design roadway environments to mitigate human mistakes and account for injury tolerances, to encourage safer behaviors, and to facilitate safe travel by the most vulnerable users.
Expand the availability of vehicle systems and features that help to prevent crashes and minimize the impact of crashes on both occupants and non-occupants.
Promote safer speeds in all roadway environments through a combination of thoughtful, equitable, context-appropriate roadway design, appropriate speed-limit setting, targeted education, outreach campaigns, and enforcement.
Enhance the survivability of crashes through expedient access to emergency medical care, while creating a safe working environment for vital first responders and preventing secondary crashes through robust traffic incident management practices.
The Safe System Approach is based on five elements—Safer People, Safer Roads, Safer Vehicles, Safer Speeds, and Post-Crash Care—and differs significantly from a conventional safety approach in that it acknowledges both human mistakes and human vulnerability and designs a redundant system to protect everyone.
We are committed to turning around the trend in traffic fatalities and serious injuries on our roadways. The NRSS articulates new priority actions that target our most significant and urgent problems and are, therefore, expected to have the most substantial impact. It also focuses on notable changes to existing practices and approaches.