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Traffic fatalities rose an estimated 10.5% in 2021, reach 16-year high, NHTSA reports

Trend in fatality rate for vehicle miles traveled decreased for three quarters of 2021

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Traffic fatalities across the U.S. rose 10.5% in 2021 to a projected 42,915 deaths, reaching a 16-year high, according to statistics released today by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

That projected increase from 38,824 fatalities in 2020 is “the highest number of fatalities since 2005 and the largest annual percentage increase in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System’s history,” NHTSA announced today.

ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner expressed concern over the record-breaking fatality rate.

“ATSSA’s members have devoted their lives to roadway safety and providing the infrastructure and technology needed to save the lives of the motoring public as well as men and women working on our roadways,” Tetschner said. “This unprecedented increase in traffic fatalities brings home the importance of our work and the necessity of government and private industry partnering to provide safe thoroughfares. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which was enacted into law in November, provides historic levels of federal funding for roadway safety infrastructure projects. Departments of transportation around the country, including the U.S. Department of Transportation, must prioritize getting these funds to critical, lifesaving safety projects as soon as possible. We know that safer roads save lives. ATSSA members are ready to go to work with their agency partners to move toward zero deaths on all roads.”

ATSSA Town Hall breaks down IIJA funding, timing

‘Gas tax holidays’ raise concerns, not expected at federal level

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Five months after the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA) was signed into law, it’s understandable ATSSA members could be wondering when the money will begin flowing to projects across the country.

That was one of the key discussion points today during an ATSSA Town Hall on the “Economic Impact of the Infrastructure Package on ATSSA Member Companies.”

ATSSA Vice President of Engagement Nate Smith and Kathy Ruffalo, president of consulting firm Ruffalo & Associates, reviewed the funds expected through different programs, the steps to get them accessible and when the first money can be expected.

Smith also talked about the gas tax holiday proposals across the country and ATSSA's efforts against them.

ATSSA leading push against efforts to suspend gas taxes

Members urged to contact their elected representatives and voice their concerns

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ATSSA has launched a nationwide effort to discourage states and Congress from suspending the collection of taxes on gasoline noting the surge in roadway fatalities over the past two years.

Some in Congress and some in state governments across the country have proposed temporarily cutting gas taxes as a way to help consumers amid inflation and sudden hikes in gas prices. However, the temporary measure would not necessarily benefit consumers but would deter improvements to roadway infrastructure at a time when such projects had just received approval for significant funding, ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner noted.

The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) became law in November and includes nearly $23 billion for roadway safety, funding necessary to help move the nation Toward Zero Deaths on its highways.

Federal and state taxes on gasoline and diesel are important sources of revenue for funding roadway safety improvements.

Biden highlights guardrails in State of the Union

Tetschner applauds focus on safety and infrastructure in congressional address

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In championing the passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Joe Biden specifically mentioned “highway guardrails” as a positive outcome of the legislation. This is apparently the first mention of guardrails in the history of these presidential addresses to Congress.

Additionally, Biden announced that the nation would start fixing “over 65,000 miles of highway and 1,500 bridges in disrepair.” That was in addition to 4,000 projects Biden said had already been announced.

ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner commended the emphasis on infrastructure and the specific reference to a proven lifesaving device produced by ATSSA members.

ATSSA CEO sends letter to Senate leaders urging rejection of Gas Prices Relief Act

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ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner today sent a letter to Senate leaders Charles Schumer and Mitch McConnell urging them to reject the Gas Prices Relief Act.

“On behalf of the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) and its over 1500 members, I strongly urge you to oppose the Gas Prices Relief Act. This legislation would strip the main source of funding for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), jeopardizing the implementation of life-saving infrastructure safety programs included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA),” Tetschner wrote.

He noted that at a time when roadway fatalities are increasing, it is not a time to “undercut funding for infrastructure safety projects.”

ATSSA members are encouraged to reach out to their Senators to express their opposition to the proposal.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg delivering keynote remarks

Transportation leader confirmed for ATSSA’s 2022 Convention & Traffic Expo

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FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (Feb. 8, 2022) – Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg confirmed today that he will deliver keynote remarks at ATSSA’s 52nd Annual Convention & Traffic Expo.

Buttigieg is expected to discuss the National Roadway Safety Strategy released Jan. 27 by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) as well as provide insights into the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA) and its impact on roadway safety.

“We are honored that Transportation Secretary Buttigieg is making the time to address our members and we look forward to hearing his insights pertaining to roadway safety and how our industry can partner with USDOT to dramatically reduce roadway fatalities,” said ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner.

ATSSA’s 2021 Annual Report is now available online

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ATSSA’s Annual Report for 2021 is now available. This year’s theme is “Resilience & Records” and lays out the many achievements that took place across the Association in a year that posed significant challenges for our members such as supply chain disruptions and a nationwide worker shortage.

The report opens with a letter from President & CEO Stacy Tetschner who touches on issues from passage of the bipartisan infrastructure package to the creation of a Roadway Worker Protection Council, which emerged from the 2021 Convention & Traffic Expo.

The report also includes a list of company members that joined ATSSA in the last year, a review of updates to ATSSA’s training options and insights gained from a member survey commissioned in 2021 as well as other highlights from the past year.

FHWA releases guidelines for safety programs under new infrastructure package

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Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) released guidelines for the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) under the new Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

The guidance outlines eligibilities under the HSIP, along with defining guidance for new special rules that  fall under the HSIP.

While the majority of the HSIP guidance remains intact from the previous highway authorization, ATSSA’s Government Relations team highlighted a few changes to the guidance under the IIJA.

ATSSA reacts to USDOT release of National Roadway Safety Strategy

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The National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS) unveiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) on Thursday focuses on moving the U.S. towards zero roadway deaths by taking a safe systems approach that includes six central themes.

The themes laid out are that: deaths and serious injuries are unacceptable; human mistakes are inevitable; humans are vulnerable to injury and death; there is a shared responsibility for these incidents; safety can be and should be proactive; and redundancy is critical. The strategy introduced by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg also focuses on five safety issues.

“ATSSA applauds Secretary Buttigieg on the release of the first National Roadway Safety Strategy, especially with its call for the enhanced protection of roadway construction workers," ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner said. "Shining a brighter spotlight on the need to dramatically reduce roadway fatalities is critically necessary.”

Smith: ATSSA members’ diligence made a difference with IIJA

ATSSA Town Hall breaks down details of the infrastructure bill

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ATSSA Vice President of Engagement Nate Smith told ATSSA members today that their diligence over the past 15 to 20 years played a significant role in the funding coming to roadway safety under the new infrastructure law.

“You all should pat yourselves on the back,” Smith said during an ATSSA Town Hall to discuss the impact of the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was signed into law on Monday. “This is a job well done.”

The $1.2 trillion measure is a historic investment in transportation funding and includes a 5-year, $304 billion investment in roads and bridges, Smith said. He noted that’s a 34% increase over current spending for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and translates into $16.8 billion over five years for the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP).

Smith said he’s confident the HSIP funding will mean additional opportunities for ATSSA members.

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