The AAA Foundation’s vision of an enhanced traffic safety culture in this country is a social climate where everyone highly regards traffic safety and rigorously pursues it. Unfortunately, all too frequently, we have seen just the opposite – actions reinforcing the current culture of complacency.
Well, I am extremely pleased to highlight one recent bright spot related to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Namely, under the leadership of Joe Toole, Federal Highway Administration’s new Associate Administrator for Safety, FHWA has done a number of things to assure that highway safety receives high priority in the implementation of the ARRA. For example, on its national website they have identified opportunities to use ARRA funds for highway safety projects, as well as tools that can be used to support and justify those safety decisions. Recognizing that nearly half of all fatalities occur on rural roads, FHWA has put particular emphasis on educating local governments about the details of ARRA and how to work with their State DOT’s to advance projects. Nearly 1000 people participated in two national webconferences that were offered at no charge to local governments. The sessions put a strong focus on safety improvements and the potential impact of ARRA on safety. These same thoughts are being presented to conferences across the U.S.
Personally, I can’t think of any more deserving “shovel-ready” project than a safety improvement project that will not only make jobs but will save lives! Hopefully, the state and local road authorities will take FHWA’s advice!