Skip to contentUnited States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration FHWA HomeFeedback
Status of the Nation's Highways, Bridges, and Transit:
2004 Conditions and Performance
< Previous | Table of Contents | Executive Summary | Next >

Chapter 11 Executive Summary

Federal Safety Initiatives

Safety remains the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT's) highest priority. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) are sponsoring a variety of initiatives to address highway and transit safety issues.

The DOT has established a goal to reduce the national highway fatality rate from the 2002 level of 1.5 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled to 1.0 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled by the year 2008.

Major improvements in highway safety require a comprehensive and coordinated approach that addresses driver behavior, vehicle design, and the roadway. Many of the safety-related activities currently being carried out by DOT are a result of a national Strategic Highway Safety Plan. This plan includes 22 emphasis areas and 90 strategies to improve highway safety.

Rather than adopting a single policy to improve safety, DOT partners with both the public and private sectors in using a variety of strategies and approaches.

The FHWA addresses roadway infrastructure improvements in three high fatality crash areas (roadway departure crashes - 59 percent of all fatalities, intersection crashes - 21 percent, pedestrian related crashes - 11 percent) by providing roadway improvement programs and working with States to implement these programs to prevent crashes and save lives.

The NHTSA has worked to improve safety through regulatory action, by implementing Federal laws that cover safety belt and child safety seat performance requirements, air bags, and intoxicated driving standards. These efforts are estimated to have saved thousands of lives.

Estimated Number of Lives Saved by
Restraint Systems, 1993 and 2002
Restraint Type 1993 2002
Safety Belts7,77314,164
Air Bags1902,248
Child Restraints313376
Source: Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

The NHTSA's public awareness campaigns such as "Drunk Driving Prevention" and "Click it or Ticket" have helped shape public opinion on the critical issues of drunk driving and safety belt use.

The DOT partners with industries and public interest groups on safety-related issues. Such a partnership has helped reduce the number of alcohol-related driving fatalities. The DOT also works to improve safety through engineering and technological research.

FMCSA's enforcement authority extends to interstate motor carriers and motor coaches. FMCSA enforcement operations help ensure compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, and their proven effectiveness in reducing crashes and fatalities on the highways has been borne out in the findings of the Roadside Inspection and Traffic Enforcement Intervention Model and Compliance Review Impact Assessment Model.

The FTA has six programs designed to improve the safety and security of the Nation's transit systems. They address modal safety, information sharing and technical assistance, training education, substance abuse, security, and data collection and analysis. Additionally, FTA works to improve safety through the DOT's Intelligent Vehicle Initiative.

As part of these programs, FTA demonstrates, evaluates, and deploys innovative safety technologies; shares technical guidance; and issues regulations stating the safety operational requirements for public transportation systems.

< Previous | Table of Contents | Executive Summary | Next >


FHWA Home | Feedback
FHWA