U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Skip to content

Home / Briefing Room / Speeches & Testimony

Briefing Room

Subscribe to FHWA Press Releases

Federal Highway Deputy Administrator Richard Capka
Remarks as prepared for delivery
"Put the Brakes on Fatalitiess" Kickoff
Tuesday, October 8, 2002
Dunn Loring Fire Department, Vienna, Virginia

It's certainly great to be here among friends, representing Secretary Mineta and Administrator Peters. What greater cause could bring us together?

I want to congratulate Larry Emig for his vision and energy in giving rise to this important cause and event. Saving lives on the nation's highways is the top transportation priority of the President and the entire administration.

When it comes to safety "Hope is NOT a Method." It requires hard work, cooperation and the personal commitment of each of us to make our roadways safe. There are risks in everything that we do. However, no matter what the occupation or activity, unnecessary injury and death is unacceptable. 42,000 deaths on our roads and highways each year are unnecessary and clearly unacceptable!

It amazes me that motor vehicle fatalities are the leading cause of death for all Americans between the ages of six and 33 and that while we are gathered here this morning for this short period of time two to three more of us will die on our roadways if nothing more is done! It is simply not acceptable!

Safety on our roadways requires the commitment of all of us . . . and our nation's leadership is committed to safety. Our safety program at FHWA focuses on the three Es -- engineering, education, and enforcement. Of course, we cannot forget to recognize the fourth "E" . . . emergency response and medical care that provides the last defense against fatalities. We are proud to be at the Dunn Loring Fire and Rescue Department, with some of those who provide that vital service each and every day.

At FHWA we concentrate on infrastructure solutions to complement behavioral solutions. To reduce death and injury, FHWA has targeted three high risk crash types:

Roadway Departure crashes (run off the road plus head-ons): Over half of the fatalities on the system, about 54 percent, occur after a vehicle departs the roadway.

Intersection crashes that account for 20 percent of fatalities, and, pedestrian deaths that account for 11 percent.

The first step is to get the engineering right. For example, our efforts to reduce roadway departure fatalities are targeted at:

  • Keeping vehicles on the road through more visible pavement markings and signs, and the use of rumble strips, and,
  • Reducing the danger of the vehicle leaving the road through increased use of seat belts, constructing recovery areas that give the driver time and space to redirect the vehicle, and erecting safer roadside barriers.

At Federal Highway, we don't believe in traffic accidents. We call the dangerous moments that take about 115 lives every day crashes. Crashes have causes and when you know the cause, you can have more success working on solutions. We are working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and with state departments of transportation and local highway agencies to put in place cost-effective improvements.

By working together we can make roadways safer. We call on everyone to save lives by putting safety first, safety last, and safety always. Drive as though your life depends upon it!

FHWA Briefing Room | Speeches and Testimony

FHWA Speeches & Testimony Archive

Page last modified on September 14, 2012.
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000