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I-80 Challenge: 11 states, 2,900 miles, 1 goal --safety

I-80 Challenge: 11 states, 2,900 miles, 1 goal --safety

I-80 logoWhen all of the 11 states along a 2,900-mile interstate highway come together to solve a safety problem, that's one promising partnership. And that's exactly what got started yesterday in Des Moines with the launch of the Interstate 80 Challenge.

The I-80 Challenge is a multi-state awareness and high-visibility enforcement effort to encourage all drivers to drive safely on the Interstate 80 corridor and to support the efforts of the law enforcement officers who are out there every day trying to make our roads safer. The challenge runs from July 24 to July 31, and we at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration--in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration--are proud to join our state and local partners in this initiative.

The Interstate 80 Challenge high visibility enforcement uses the slogan, "More cops. More stops," and encompasses more than the State Police and Highway Patrol agencies that typically work along the I-80 corridor.  The challenge is also supported by local officers and deputies conducting highly visible traffic enforcement along the secondary roads in communities near this busy interstate.

And we can't thank these officers enough for their extra effort this week.

Photo of law enforcement representatives from the 11 I-80 states

Interstate 80 runs 2,900 miles from downtown San Francisco, California, to Teaneck, New Jersey – nearly the width of the U.S. This very busy corridor serves as a major travel route for millions of Americans each year. 

In 2011 – the most recent year for which we have statistics – we saw the lowest rate of deaths on our nation’s highways.  On I-80, 78 people were killed and 1,202 seriously injured as a result of crashes involving large truck and buses. We can do better.

Crashes involving a truck or bus in a state that I-80 runs through account for 32 percent of all Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) related fatalities and serious injuries. We can do better.

Five of the 11 states that have Interstate 80 passing through it –California, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania– have the most deaths of any state due to large truck crashes. We can do better.

Photo of FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro talking with law enforcement officials

Driver error is the most frequent factor causing these crashes. In fact, nationwide, nearly 90 percent of fatal crashes involving large trucks and buses have driver-related causes. Sometimes, a crash is the fault of the commercial vehicle driver, and sometimes it's the driver of the car. But it's almost always preventable.

This month – July – is one of the months with the highest traffic fatalities because of the increased number of people traveling. That's why we're asking drivers and passengers of all vehicles to be safety-conscious and responsible.

FMCSA was established by Congress to save lives by preventing crashes involving commercial motor vehicles. Just as safety is the Department of Transportation's top priority, it is FMCSA’s fundamental mission. So this week's Interstate 80 Challenge to reduce crash deaths along this busy highway is something we appreciate.

It’s all about safety.

We know that, with more cops making more stops, we can improve roadway safety and, ultimately, save lives.

Anne Ferro is Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.