• GAO urges more information collection and sharing to help protect vulnerable road users.
  • Study provides disturbing insights into increased traffic fatalities in our country.

The United States Governmental Accountability Office, a non-partisan research arm of the federal government, issued a sobering report late last month recommending that the Department of Transportation (DOT) do more to advance and share knowledge on what countermeasures are most effective in improving safety for bicyclists and pedestrians. The study was initiated in 2020 because in 2019 over 7,000 pedestrians and cyclists—about 20 per day—died in collisions with motor vehicles in the United States, up from about 4,800 in 2009.

After analyzing a decade of traffic fatalities and interviewing dozens of federal transportation experts over an 18-month period, the GAO criticized the ineffectiveness of most National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Highway Administration safety initiatives. GAO auditors instead recommended the NHTSA collect more information on safety programs launched by states and share those results with state officials. The report also urged both agencies to adjust existing pedestrian and safety programs based on new performance measures.

In short, there remain a lot of gaps in our knowledge of how best to influence the behavior of road users—drivers, riders, walkers, and others—to enhance safety. States and localities, in particular, need better tools to address the safety of vulnerable road users, according to the GAO. The researchers also recommended that US DOT should do more to assess the performance of its pedestrian and cyclist safety activities to make sure that it is prioritizing those activities that will make the greatest improvements in safety.

FABB is encouraged that all levels of government are increasingly focused on improving the safety of vulnerable road users. But, as the GAO report indicates, so much more has to be done. Won’t you please join us in our advocacy efforts and help make bicycling better in Fairfax County? Contact us at [email protected].


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