Today, Reps. Joe Crowley (D-NY) and Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) announced the introduction of the Pedestrian Fatalities Reduction Act of 2014 (H.R. 4507), legislation to improve road safety for pedestrians and cyclists by requiring states to focus attention on addressing serious injuries and fatalities of pedestrians. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 4,500 pedestrians were killed and 69,000 injured just in 2011. The share of these incidents resulting in death has steadily grown over the past decade.
"Sadly, my district is no stranger to traffic-related deaths and we need a comprehensive approach if we are to reverse the alarming trend of pedestrian fatalities we are seeing in New York and across the country," said Rep. Crowley. "That's why Congressman LoBiondo and I have introduced this commonsense bill to require states to focus attention on this serious problem and help make our streets safer for everyone."
"We must take proactive steps to ensure safety on our roadways for both drivers and pedestrians, rather than simply reacting after a tragic event has occurred. This commonsense bipartisan legislation will help states and communities properly plan for road improvement and expansion projects, ensuring greater safety of bicyclists and pedestrians who also use our streets. I applaud Rep. Crowley for his continued leadership on an issue that reaches every community and state," said Rep. LoBiondo, a senior member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.
Currently, states are required to submit a Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) to the Federal Highway Administration in order to receive federal highway safety funds. This is a comprehensive, state-wide plan for reducing accidents on public roads and is used by state departments of transportation to outline safety needs and determine investment decisions. The Pedestrian Fatalities Reduction Act would require SHSPs to include statistics on pedestrian injuries and fatalities and ask states to demonstrate how they will address any increase in these incidents at both the state and county levels.
The legislation would also update the federal handbook that local and state departments of transportation use when collecting highway safety data. The changes will specify the inclusion of elements that promote safety for pedestrians as well as cyclists. Current federal road safety policies are geared toward motorists and leave out others who, in states like New York and New Jersey, make up an increasingly large portion of the people using our streets.
Recently, the Department of Transportation delivered its version of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill to Congress, which includes language addressing roadway safety that mirrors the goals of the Crowley/LoBiondo legislation.
The Pedestrian Fatalities Reduction Act has been endorsed by a number of organizations dedicated to promoting policies that make streets safer for all users, including AARP, Inc., League of American Bicyclists, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, New York City-based Transportation Alternatives, and Transportation for America.