With an increasing national roadway crisis including 38,824 traffic fatalities in 2020, National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy recently challenged safety leaders to use the Safe System Approach in their communities to combat the dire problem.
The call to action occurred during her closing speech at the 2022 Lifesavers conference in Chicago, the largest annual gathering of highway safety professionals in the United States.
Homendy said the nation — and its safety professionals — are experiencing a “watershed moment.” Specifically, the actions that highway safety leaders have been advocating for are now part of the first-ever National Roadway Safety Strategy from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
She noted that the national call for a paradigm shift in traffic safety to the Safe System Approach is also on NTSB’s Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements.
The Safe System Approach is designed to address an array of critical problems — such as speeding, which killed 9,478 people, and distracted driving, which claimed 3,142 lives in 2019 — to name just a few. It is a proven approach to reducing highway deaths and injuries by taking a holistic view of the entire highway system, from planning to design to use with the goal of making the nation’s roads safer for all road users.
However, realizing the Safe System Approach starts at the grassroots level. Homendy’s message to highway safety leaders was just that: It is time to create that new reality in your own communities. She even challenged the audience to pick one initiative they plan to implement under the Safe System Approach and tweet their personal commitment.