Addressing the Roadway Safety Crisis: Building Safer Roads for All
2167 Rayburn House Office Building and online via videoconferencing
Opening remarks, as prepared, of Subcommittee on Highways and Transit Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-IL):
Thank you, Chair Norton. I am happy to see so many of our witnesses are attending this important hearing in-person today. It is good to see that we are progressing toward normal operations. I thank you for being here today to talk about this important matter.
We had expected that the increase in the traffic fatality rate in 2020 was a one-year anomaly, resulting from an increase in dangerous driving and lack of enforcement during the Coronavirus Pandemic. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that the number of traffic fatalities in 2021 increased by 10.5 percent to 42,915 – a 16-year high.
The safety of our transportation system is paramount, and it is important that we gather feedback on how our safety programs are working and best practices we should consider. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution to get to zero roadway deaths. Each state, locality, and functional roadway class has unique safety risks.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) provided historic resources for programs that increase safety in our transportation system. It provided $15.5 billion, representing a 34 percent increase in funding level for the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), a very flexible, core highway program that funds projects that reduce traffic deaths and injuries.
In addition, IIJA created a new $5 billion program, called Safe Streets and Roads for All. This program provides planning and implementation funds to local and tribal governments to increase safety on local roads, with a focus on vulnerable road users.
Although the purchasing power of this historic investment is not what we thought it would be, given the also historic inflation rate, we need to make sure funding is used efficiently and effectively.
With that, I want to thank our witnesses for being with us this morning, and I look forward to hearing their testimony on this very important topic.