FHWA Highlights Commitment to Road Safety

April 19, 2023
USDOT’s National Roadway Safety Strategy emphasizes the need to make roadway construction and maintenance zones safe for workers as roadways are built, maintained, and upgraded with the latest safety features

In a release put out by the U.S. Department of Transportation's (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the agency is reaffirming it's commitment to improve safety for road construction workers and other vulnerable road users outside of vehicles.

"Every person in a work zone is somebody's parent, child, sibling, loved one, or friend, and we want every single one of them to return home safely to their loved ones when their shift is done," said Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt. "By working closely with our state and local partners we are bringing the investments of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to bear in order to help save lives and strengthen the safety of those working in our nation's construction zones."

In a kickoff event yesterday in Missouri, FHWA Executive Director Gloria Shepherd joined officials from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) in reminding drivers to keep highway workers safe as construction season ramps up and highlighted how the legislation can improve safety in work zones.

The event was organized by MoDOT, and held at the Lance Corporal Leon Deraps I-70 Westbound Missouri River Bridge project.

“We intend to use every program and funding option at our disposal under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to make our surface transportation safer including in areas where repairs, maintenance and construction are underway,” said FHWA Executive Director Shepherd. “The safety of highway workers and others on roads, bridges and highways across the country is FHWA’s number one priority.”

USDOT’s National Roadway Safety Strategy emphasizes the need to make roadway construction and maintenance zones safe for workers as roadways are built, maintained, and upgraded with the latest safety features. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) provides funding that can be used to improve safety on roads. The law guarantees $5 billion to local governments for the new Safe Streets and Roads for All Discretionary Grant program and $15.6 billion in total funding to State DOT's under the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), FHWA’s signature highway safety funding program to make roads safer for all road users. The law also includes several other provisions that can improve work zone safety, including:

  • Congestion Relief Program discretionary grants that can be used for deployment and operation of integrated congestion management systems, which must include work zone management;
  • a Data Integration Pilot program for work zone data collection and traveler information activities;
  • Federal funds apportioned to each state through HSIP that can now be used for automated traffic enforcement system programs in a work zone;
  • a higher federal share – up to 100% – for certain projects that utilize innovative project delivery, including those that provide contingency funds to incorporate safety enhancements to work zones.

According to USDOT, crashes in highway work zones happen most frequently when drivers are speeding or aren’t paying attention to changing road conditions. In 2021, 956 people died in highway work zone crashes in the U.S. The National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse, operated by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, has additional data on work zone fatalities.

As a show of support for highway workers, FHWA and its National Work Zone Awareness Week partners are urging the public to wear orange on Wednesday, April 19, for a national “Go Orange” Day.

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Source: USDOT