Capitol Hill has been buzzing with infrastructure-related talks as of late, which has spurred hearings, discussions, and meetings as a part of a legislative push aimed at developing and passing robust and broad infrastructure legislation. The House Transportation Committee continued the conversation around this legislative push with one of the most important issues to consider while using our nation’s roadways: safety.
On Tuesday, the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit held a hearing with the goal of better understanding safety on our nation’s roads and how to lower the number of traffic-related fatalities and injuries. At this hearing, “Every Life Counts: Improving the Safety of our Nation’s Roadways,” witnesses provided testimony on improving roadway safety. The following people testified:
- The Honorable Jennifer Homendy, Member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
- The Honorable Fred Jones, Vice Mayor for the City of Neptune Beach, Florida on behalf of Transportation for America
- Michael L. Brown, Chief of Police for the City of Alexandria
- Jay Bruemmer, Vice President of K & G Striping, Inc. on behalf of the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA)
- Mike Sewell, Active Transportation Service Line Leader for Gresham Smith on behalf of The League of American Bicyclists (LAB)
- Nicholas Smith, Interim President and Chief Executive Officer of The National Safety Council (NSC)
At the hearing, Full Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR4) stated:
“A total of 37,133 people were killed on our roadways in 2017. Let me put this in context – this is the equivalent of about 218 fully loaded airplanes falling out of the sky each year and yet somehow this has not spurred Americans to demand that enough is enough. If that weren’t bad enough, when you consider that the top causes of motor vehicle deaths are drunk driving, speeding, and distractions, you realize these deaths are entirely preventable.
At a time when transportation is changing rapidly thanks to innovation, data sharing, and automation, it’s shocking we still aren’t making big strides in safety. We should be holding ourselves to a higher standard, because when it comes to roadway safety every single life counts. While we invest billions of dollars in research for cancer and other diseases and allocate new resources to combatting the opioid crisis, we have failed to seriously invest in lowering deaths on our nation’s roadways.”
ASCE and its members hold paramount public health, safety, and welfare and have long supported the principles of Vision Zero, which is based on the premise that traffic deaths and injuries can be prevented; therefore, none are acceptable. It calls for safety to be the primary consideration in transportation decision-making. Vision Zero is founded on four principles:
- Ethics: Human life and health are paramount and take priority over mobility and other objectives of the road traffic system;
- Responsibility: providers and regulators of the road traffic system share responsibility with users;
- Safety: road traffic systems should take account of human fallibility and minimize both the opportunities for errors and the harm done when they occur; and
- Mechanisms for change: providers and regulators must do their utmost to guarantee the safety of all citizens; they must cooperate with road users; and all three must be ready to change to achieve safety.
ASCE’s government relations team will continue to be actively engaged and advocate for public safety as this infrastructure investment legislative push continues on Capitol Hill. We urge you reach out to your Members of Congress and tell them to put forward a long-term plan to improve our infrastructure systems.