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Publication Number:      Date:  March/April 1999
Issue No: Vol. 62 No. 5
Date: March/April 1999


Editor's Notes

"Safety Is Always First"

A consistent message from the leaders of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has been that safety - "working toward the elimination of transportation-related deaths, injuries, and property damage" - is the top priority of DOT and FHWA.

In the last issue of Public Roads, we featured an interview with former Associate Administrator for Motor Carriers George Reagle. In the interview, entitled "Always Safety First," Reagle discussed many ways in which FHWA is promoting safety.

Since that interview was published, two very significant things have happened. First, in accordance with the restructuring of FHWA, Reagle's Office of Motor Carriers became the Office of Motor Carrier and Highway Safety with some additional safety-related responsibilities. Second, Reagle, whose impressive resume in highway safety was provided with the interview in the last issue, was appointed to be Federal Highway Administrator Kenneth Wykle's senior advisor for safety, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and other motor carrier issues, and Julie Anna Cirillo became the program manager (formerly called associate administrator) of motor carrier and highway safety.

Cirillo has an equally impressive professional history. She has worked for FHWA and its precedessor, the Bureau of Public Roads, for 35 years, and she is an internationally recognized safety expert. She conducted safety research in geometrics, speed, large trucks, pedestrians, bicycles, accident location reference systems, accident analyses, roadside safety hardware, skid resistance, delineation systems, and traffic-control devices. Most recently, before her current assignment, she was FHWA's change manager to implement the organizational restructuring plan. Before that, she served as administrator of FHWA's Region Nine.

Cirillo outlined her safety philosophy in a keynote speech to a convention of the American Traffic Safety Services Association in San Antonio on Feb. 15.

"What is my safety philosophy? I can sum it up in one word: RESULTS.

"We are in the business of saving lives - the lives of Americans. FHWA's customer is the American public. All of our efforts, our activities, and our projects must be directed toward this end. That is why I am truly excited about the new safety organization that has been created within FHWA. For the first time, FHWA's safety functions are combined into one unit. In the past, safety functions have been somewhat scattered throughout the agency, now they are integrated.

"The fundamental goal of the Office of Motor Carrier and Highway Safety is to reduce fatalities and injuries. That is our focus. Programs involving motor carriers, design, roadside hardware, work zones, human factors, and driver qualifications are not ends in themselves. They are tools - tools we use to reduce fatalities and injuries.

"The integration of these and related programs into a single office will allow FHWA to better identify safety opportunities and make more strategic, targeted investments.

"Let me specifically outline our near-term program to reduce fatalities and injuries. Over the next three years, the FHWA Office of Motor Carrier and Highway Safety will concentrate on specific safety initiatives in four main areas: (1) highway users - focusing on driver fatigue, driver behavior, and pedestrians; (2) highway design - focusing on roadside hazards and operations management; (3) vehicles and cargo - focusing on improving the general condition of vehicles through streamlined, targeted roadside inspections; and (4) motor carrier operations - focusing on increased enforcement, identifying and targeting high-risk carriers, and using increased penalties more effectively to sustain compliance." We continue to hear the message loud and clear - "Safety is always first."

Bob Bryant




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