The U.S. Department of Transportation issued what it is calling a “first-of-its-kind” Pedestrian Safety Action Plan on November 23 – a plan that will be overseen by the Federal Highway Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
[Photo courtesy of the Federal Highway Administration.]
“This unprecedented comprehensive safety effort is focused solely on protecting pedestrians because crossing a street should not be lethal for thousands of adults and children every year,” noted U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in a statement – noting that USDOT’s plan will promote the expanded use of countermeasures, technology, and data-driven practices to address pedestrian fatalities and injuries.
According to NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, pedestrians comprised 17 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2019. In 2019 – the most recent year in which data is available – 6,205 pedestrians died in traffic crashes, which is 44 percent more compared to 2010.
The USDOT noted that pedestrian fatalities are largely a phenomenon in urban areas during dark conditions, typically increasing in the fall and winter months – analysis that dovetails with findings from a report issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association in February.
The USDOT also designated October this year as the first-ever National Pedestrian Safety Month – and, concurrently, many state departments of transportation highlighted their efforts at the state level to improve pedestrian safety.
The USDOT also initiated a national series of “stakeholder discussions” in July regarding pedestrian safety, with the FHWA launching “STEP UP” –short for “Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian” – in June to help states make roads safer for everyone.
“Reducing pedestrian fatalities is a team effort that requires collaboration between federal, state, and local transportation leaders,” noted Nicole Nason, FHWA administrator. “We need safer roads, and this plan provides a road map to get us there.” “At some point in the day, we are all pedestrians – especially right now, when everyone wants to get outside for some fresh air,” added NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens. “Everyone has a role to play in ensuring pedestrian safety and this Pedestrian Safety Action Plan will help communities, drivers, and pedestrians take steps to save lives.”