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Pedestrian injuries spike; Senate committee considers an amendment for the safety of all road users

Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released traffic fatality and injury numbers for 2010. Overall, the trend in headed in the right direction. The number of motor vehicle traffic fatalities – 32,885 – was the lowest since 1949. Thankfully, there were ten fewer bicyclist fatalities in 2010 than in 2009; but 618 cyclist deaths is still 618 too many.

There was one stunning exception to the downward trend: injuries to pedestrians spiked. The number of pedestrians injured in traffic crashes increased 19 percent, going from 59,000 in 2009 to 70,000 in 2010, according to NHTSA’s data. Meanwhile, pedestrian fatalities increased 4.2 percent.  Safer cars and drivers wearing seatbelts may be helping drivers’ safety, but they are little help to a person on foot.


Photo of an “incomplete street” in Charlotte, NC from the National Complete Streets Coalition website.

With a one year increase of 11,000 pedestrian injuries, it is a good time to consider what can be done to improve road safety for all road users. Senator Begich (D-AK) has introduced an amendment (to S.1950) that would require the Federal Department of Transportation to set safety standards for motorized and non-motorized modes.  (A state could write its own safety policy or law to be exempted from the federal standard.) This law would give the US DOT the authority enact a Complete Streets policy and encourage states to implement their own.

The law says the Secretary of Transportation “shall establish standards to ensure that the design of Federal surface transportation projects provides for the safe and adequate accommodation, in all phases of project planning, development, and operation, of all users of the transportation network, including motorized and non-motorized users.” [Emphasis mine.] As stated above, states are granted a waiver if they pass a law of their own that accomplishes the same. The Secretary “shall determine whether the applicable State has achieved compliance with this section,” according to the amendment language.

The Commerce Committee will hear the bill on Wednesday, Dec. 14th at 10:00am.  These Senators are on the Committee. You can use our Advocacy Center to send a message to your Senator to urge them to support the Begich amendment to S. 1950 for the SAFETY FOR MOTORIZED AND NONMOTORIZED USERS.


Majority Members

Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV
West Virginia

Senator Daniel K. Inouye

Senator John F. Kerry

Senator Barbara Boxer

Senator Bill Nelson

Senator Maria Cantwell

Senator Frank R. Lautenberg
New Jersey

Senator Mark Pryor

Senator Claire McCaskill

Senator Amy Klobuchar

Senator Tom Udall
New Mexico

Senator Mark Warner

Senator Mark Begich

Minority Members

Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison

Senator Olympia Snowe

Senator Jim DeMint
South Carolina

Senator John Thune
South Dakota

Senator Roger Wicker

Senator Johnny Isakson

Senator Roy Blunt

Senator John Boozman

Senator Patrick J. Toomey

Senator Marco Rubio

Senator Kelly Ayotte
New Hampshire

Senator Dean Heller

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