FHWA's Bhatt Talks Roadway Safety

Feb. 13, 2024
FHWA head made statements at this year's AASHTO briefing

Shailen Bhatt, head of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), this week discussed the agency's future plans for highway safety, as well as technology implementation at the 2024 Washington Briefing held by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) in Washington, D.C.

“Back in 2010, we were seeing around 30,000 deaths annually on our roadways, with fatalities dropping each year, so we were cautiously optimistic we were headed in the right direction at the time,” Bhatt said in a statement. “As we all know, all of that turned out to be moot; we went the other way as we are now around the 43,000 [annual fatality] mark.”

Despite this, Bhatt offered an optimistic take on plans for roadway safety. 

“Take the AASHTO Safety Summit organized last year; there has been action behind it,” he said. “Also, my division staff have now worked with 48 states to deploy a variety of safety countermeasures. It is such a positive thing to see words followed with action. So I am now again cautiously optimistic; the numbers are now coming down a bit over the last few quarters. While it is nothing to celebrate, we’ve stopped the massive 10% year-over-year increases [in fatalities].”

Bhatt noted that “technology is changing the way we construct projects and experience transportation” and will also play a key role in helping the nation achieve zero deaths on its roadways in the future.

Bhatt also stressed that despite this time where technological advances are concerned, “it is really incumbent on us to deploy every tool in the tool box” to continue improving roadway safety.

“When comes to safety, we have to keep erring on the side of safety; not on the side of caution." he said. 

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Source: AASHTO

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