Fixing Our Roads Can Save Lives

The “on-again off-again” discussions of a big infrastructure bill have left people in the roadway safety industry highly frustrated. The sad state of our roadway infrastructure, which receives a D+ rating by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), results in longer travel times, wear and tear on vehicles, and roads that don’t benefit from today’s “best practices” for safety.

Consider that in five years, from 2013 to 2017, nationwide roadway fatalities rose from 30,056 to 37,133, an increase of 23.5 percent. This statistic, taken from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) database administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), represents real people with families, friends, and colleagues who will forever miss their presence.

Fatalities for “vulnerable road users” – particularly cyclists and pedestrians – have increased at a faster rate than overall fatalities for several years in a row. While the long-term goal is to eliminate all fatalities and bring everyone home safely every day, we have the tools to at least reduce the number of deaths on our roadways now. We just need the money to do it.

The federal-aid highway program includes specific funding for making our roadways safer. About seven percent of those funds go to the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP). With the increase in fatalities of vulnerable road users, we’d like to see those funds increased to 10 percent. These funds can be used to improve signs and markings, install crash cushions, guardrails, median barrier, wrong-way driving deterrents, bike lane delineators, special crossing signals for pedestrians, and numerous other improvements.

We urge Congress to pass a robust infrastructure and roadway bill and to ensure that a significant portion of those funds goes to making our roadways safer. After all, the life saved may be yours.

-Roger Wentz, President and CEO, the American Traffic Safety Services Association

The American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), represents the roadway safety infrastructure industry with effective legislative advocacy, traffic control safety training, and a far-reaching member partnership. ATSSA helps shift the focus of transportation towards saving lives and reducing injuries.