Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) National Roadway Safety Culture Summit here in Washington, D.C.
The session focused on the need to develop national safety culture, an environment that encourages people to make decisions that make our roadways safer. This safety culture will help us combat one of the most challenging public health issues our nation faces today: the high number of traffic crashes and resulting roadway injuries and deaths.
At the Department of Transportation, we have seen the difference that public awareness campaigns can make in changing attitudes, along with enforcement measures that deter unsafe activity and industry actions that challenge dangerous behavior.
Last year, representatives from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Research and Innovative Technology Administration published an overarching plan to significantly reduce roadway injuries and deaths.
Their work became known as the US DOT Roadway Safety Plan, which focuses on six principles: collaboration, safer behaviors, safer vehicles, safer roadways, empowering communities, and ensuring accountability. The plan, which examines every aspect of roadway safety, concludes that a greater awareness of an individual’s role in safety will bring us closer to our vision of zero deaths on our roadways. Everyone has a role to play in keeping our roads safe.
At FMCSA, we spread this message through education and outreach – letting our drivers, motor carriers, and industry leaders know about our policies, programs, and enforcement actions focused on making everyone safer.
We have seen that when carriers and drivers take responsibility for their safety performance, crashes are prevented, and safety on our roads improves. Last year, violations per roadside inspection were down 8 percent and driver violations per inspection were down 10 percent, the most dramatic decrease in these rates in a decade.
Each and every decision we make on the road is important. Whether you are staying off the road when you’re tired, putting down your phone and concentrating on driving, or talking to your family and friends about driving smart, safety begins with you. The most important opportunity to effect change is with our own actions. As we drive forward with the vision of zero deaths, we all must recognize the role we play in roadway safety.
Anne Ferro is the Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration