2013 National Roadway Safety Awards honor safety, innovation
I often say that, for all the work we do at the Department of Transportation, safety is by far the most important.
Nothing else comes close.
The fact is, we could have the most state-of-the art vehicles in the world, but none of it would matter if the roads they drove on weren't safe --or vice versa. And thanks to the efforts of this Department and of automobile and truck manufacturers, State DOTs, and so many others, we've been able to make progress through the decades toward greater safety.
The work of making our roads safer doesn’t get easier--the more progress we make, the harder it is to move the needle further on safety.
On one side, road safety involves smart, carefully developed policy decisions and rulemaking. On the other side, it requires implementation on the frontlines by the people who do the hard work--the State DOTs, the research centers, and the safety advocates who help us push the safety envelope. These are the men and women who get their hands dirty. All too often, we see them and their teams on our highways, but we rarely acknowledge their contribution to the safety we take for granted.
Last week, I had the chance to thank some of those groups in person, during the 2013 National Roadway Safety Awards.
Since 1998, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has joined with the Roadway Safety Foundation (RSF) every two years to recognize innovative roadway safety projects and programs that eliminate or sharply reduce highway deaths across the country.
Award winners are credited with reducing roadway fatalities and injuries through excellence and innovation in operations, planning, and design. I was happy to present 11 awards and one honorable mention:
- Connecticut Department of Transportation for converting a rotary to a roundabout, resulting in a 50% reduction in the number of crashes at that site.
- Cornell Local Roads Program (NY) for developing inspection kits to improve rural sign safety.
- Genesee County, MI Road Commission for its Safety Improvement Plan for County Roads.
- Idaho Transportation Department for its Highway Safety Corridor Analysis Project.
- Idaho Transportation Department for its use of innovative technology in developing a Winter Performance Measure System.
- Interstate Road Management, Inc., a wholly-owned company of DBi Services, for a Kentucky roads project.
- Mobile County, AL Engineer's Office for its efforts to decrease "run-off-the-road" crashes on 10 roadways.
- Rutgers' Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (NJ) for their free road safety audit program.
- South Central Planning & Development Commission (LA) for its data-driven action plan, the South Central Regional Transportation Safety Plan.
- Tennessee Department of Transportation for its efforts to improve safety at dangerous intersections by implementing new J-Turn designs.
- Washington State Patrol and the Washington State Department of Transportation for their joint project developing an infrared commercial truck brake screening system.
- (Honorable Mention) Safe Roads Alliance (MA) for its efforts to educate parents about teen driving laws and keeping teens safe on the road.
With this year's National Roadway Safety Awardees
You can read more about lessons learned from this year's winners in the National Roadway Safety Awards' "Noteworthy Practices Guide."
In the meantime, I hope you'll join me in congratulating this year's awardees and thanking them for their important contribution to safer roads across America.
John Porcari is Deputy U.S. Secretary of Transportation.