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FHWA Acting Administrator Rick Capka
Remarks as prepared for delivery
2005 National Roadway Safety Awards
November 15, 2005, Washington, DC

SAVING LIVES

The Federal Highway Administration -- an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation -- and the Roadway Safety Foundation jointly sponsor this program every two years to share "best safety practices" from throughout the United States.

Safety is the top transportation priority for President Bush and Secretary Mineta. Federal Highways is an agency that is dedicated to SAVING LIVES. Nationally, we're moving in the right direction.

In 2004 the nation's highway fatality rate was 1.44 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, the lowest rate on record. Safety belt use reached 82 per cent, an all-time high. Intersection-related fatalities decreased 2.7 per cent. Pedestrian fatalities decreased 2.8 per cent.

And yet . . . non-alcohol-related fatalities reached 25,942 in 2004, the fourth consecutive year in which they've increased. The number of children, elementary school age or younger, killed on our highways increased last year to 1,371. This time of year we can anticipate an average of 115 people dying each day on our nation's highways.

That's unacceptable to me and to the folks we are honoring today. It should be unacceptable to all Americans.

SAFETEA-LU, the new surface transportation act, invests a record amount in safety programs. The Act will help us save lives -- it almost doubles the funding for infrastructure safety. The highway safety improvement program is established as a core program, separately funded for the first time.

There is a data-driven, results oriented approach to safety planning and investment with flexibility for states to target funds to their most critical safety needs. And there are specific safety programs that target work zones, pedestrians, and high-risk rural roads.

THIS YEAR'S WINNERS

The National Roadway Safety Awards Program gives us an opportunity to step back and celebrate excellence within the highway safety community.

This year, fourteen projects were selected for national recognition. These projects meet the key criteria of effectiveness, innovation, efficient use of resources, and application to other states and communities.

Winners include eight state transportation departments, three state police agencies, a metropolitan planning organization, and the U.S. Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They are exemplary projects that demonstrate the, '4Es' of highway safety -- engineering, education, enforcement, and emergency services.

I want to take a minute to highlight projects in three states:

Ohio's two award winning projects -- Work Zone Analysis and the New Highway Safety Program -- place greater emphasis on timely crash data to identify emerging trends that can be addressed quickly. Good data from these initiatives plus doubled funding for improving high-crash locations resulted in Ohio achieving the second largest fatality decrease in the nation in 2003.

Missouri's Blueprint for Safer Roadways outlines strategies to save 1,000 lives and reduce fatalities by 18.8 per cent by 2008. The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety leads the effort to implement the Blueprint. The coalition includes local, regional and state safety advocates, decision makers and law enforcement.

Utah used High Tensioned Cable Barrier as an interim safety solution to reduce high-speed crossover crashes on I-15 near Provo. Use of the barriers resulted in a 91 percent reduction in fatalities and injuries.

BEST PRACTICES

The quest to improve highway safety is on going. Federal Highways and particularly our Safety Office are committed to making sure that all state and local partners learn about the "best practices" we are recognizing today.

  • If we don't share the good news about these awards, we miss an opportunity to save more lives.
  • As responsible stewards of highway safety, we must make the most of every life-saving opportunity.

We will share your good news.

  • The Awards brochure showcasing your best practices will be provided to safety practitioners, to transportation decision makers at all levels, and to national, state and local media.
  • FHWA's safety website will share best practices with the general public.

Your work will make a difference. By working as partners, we will continue to save lives.

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