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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.”

USDOT releases grant notification for $5 billion Safe Streets for All Program

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Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) released its Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the newly created Safe Streets and Roads for All Program, a $5 billion grant program focused on local vision zero projects which was created in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The grant is funded at $1 billion annually through Fiscal Year 2026.

The grant program is focused on assisting local and regional governments in achieving their vision zero goals and strategies. Eligible grant recipients include cities, towns and townships, counties, metropolitan planning organizations, some transit authorities, tribes and groupings of these units of governments (for example, multiple cities can join together for a project). State governments are ineligible to receive this grant.

ATSSA mourns the passing of roadway safety champion Norm Mineta

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Former Secretary of Transportation and roadway safety leader Norm Y. Mineta passed away on May 3, 2022, at the age of 90.

ATSSA President and CEO Stacy Tetschner issued the following statement:  The country has lost a leader and staunch supporter of roadway safety. Mineta was the U.S.’s longest serving Secretary of Transportation and launched the Decade of Action for Road Safety in Washington, D.C. during his tenure. He was a vocal supporter of National Work Zone Awareness Week and as a champion of the transportation industry. Perhaps most significantly, Secretary Mineta worked with ATSSA in establishing the nation’s first dedicated federal program for roadway safety infrastructure, the Highway Safety Improvement Program. Tens of thousands of people are alive today directly because of Secretary Mineta’s passion for roadway safety. His legacy will live on in the work that our members do every day in making roads safer.

Roadway Safety Spring Issue and Convention Extra now online

Explore Ohio’s smart mobility corridor and relive highlights of the 2022 Convention in Tampa

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The Spring Issue of Roadway Safety magazine is online now and explores Ohio’s Smart Mobility Corridor along Interstate 33 between Dublin and East Liberty.

This 35-mile stretch of roadway in Northeast Ohio is a living laboratory where multiple organizations are testing automated and connected vehicle technology including ways to protect pedestrians. The project is a partnership between private industry and government entities as well as residents in those communities and has been dubbed “the world’s most connected highway.”

Convention Extra is also online and provides a commemorative of the 2022 Convention & Traffic Expo in Tampa, Fla., and an opportunity to see what you missed if you didn't attend this reunion of the roadway safety industry.

ATSSA urges DOTs to support a standardized form for QPL and APL

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ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner reached out to the leaders of departments of transportation (DOTs) in all 50 states asking for their support for a standardized form for the Qualified Products List (QPL) and the Approved Products List (APL).

In a letter, Tetschner explains that a standardized form would help roadway safety products get to market faster by streamlining the current burdensome process of making a different application for every DOT across the country.

"If you are not aware, each DOT manages its QPL/APL submittals, reviews and approvals differently and this means each company wishing to see a product added to the list must go through the process 50 times, frequently in different ways with different forms, resulting in a very time-consuming, labor-intensive process,” Tetschner states in the letter. “This burdensome process delays getting new and improved products onto the roadways where they could save lives.”

The letter is signed by the president of each of ATSSA’s Chapters, which represent 1,500 member companies from across the country as well as many public agencies.

Virginia’s governor urges drivers to slow ‘at the first sign of a work zone’

National Work Zone Awareness Week starts today

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Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin is urging all drivers to slow down and be alert when they see “the first sign of a work zone.”

His statement came today as National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) kicks off across the country. This weeklong national commemoration has been held each year since 2000 at the start of the spring roadway construction season to raise awareness for all motorists.

Statistics show that motorists and their passengers make up the majority of deaths due to work zone crashes. In 2020, the most recent year for which national data is available, 857 people were killed in work zone incidents, according to the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse. Of the 156 pedestrians killed in work zones in 2020, 51 were work zone personnel.

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.

‘Effective Incident Response’ webinar set for March 22

Registration is open for ATSSA’s second Worker Safety Webinar

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Prepare for effective incident response by attending the free March 22 Worker Safety Webinar hosted by the ATSSA Training Department and its Roadway Worker Protection Council.

This is the second in a series of five webinars, all of which are free and focus on learning ways to protect roadway workers.

“The goal of these webinars is to help our members protect their employees and to help prepare them in case a work zone incident occurs,” said ATSSA Vice President of Education and Technical Services Donna Clark. “Obviously, we never want any roadway worker to get injured but we’ve learned it’s better to be prepared and not need the skills than to be unprepared if the worst happens.”

ATSSA State Chapters Oppose Gas Tax Suspension Measures

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Three ATSSA chapters sent letters today opposing measures that would suspend state gas taxes during the ongoing crisis.

In Michigan, Pennsylvania and California, governors and state legislators have proposed temporarily halting their state’s gas tax in an attempt to provide relief to consumers at the pump. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that consumers will see a discernible decrease in the price of fuel should these measures become law. Instead, much-needed roadway safety improvement projects would be put at risk. ATSSA remains concerned with any federal or state legislation that would threaten critical infrastructure funding.

ATSSA joins effort asking Congress to amend ARP to release relief funds

Groups seek ability to use allocated funds for transportation projects

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ATSSA joined the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and 26 other groups asking leaders in the House and Senate to pass legislation that would amend the American Rescue Plan (ARP).

The groups sent a letter on Tuesday asking Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to act on legislation (S. 3011 and H.R. 5735) that would give states and localities greater flexibility to use a larger portion of ARP funds needed for transportation projects.

“The American Rescue Plan (ARP) provided states and localities with $350 billion in relief funds and $10 billion in capital improvement assistance at a time of critical need. The COVID-19 pandemic ripped a gaping hole in the budgets of many state and local governments, making this assistance crucial as the nation’s economic recovery continues,” the letter states.

It goes on to explain that more than $100 billion remains unobligated and yet “the funds lack the flexibility necessary for states and localities to address ongoing transportation needs.”

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