Equity in Roadway Safety
“Since 2015, the annual number of [roadway] fatalities has exceeded 35,000, with millions more injured – sometimes permanently – each year. Traffic crashes are a leading cause of death for teenagers in America, and disproportionately impact people who are Black, American Indian, and live in rural communities. We face a crisis on our roadways; it is both unacceptable and solvable.”
To address the national roadway fatality crisis, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is encouraging transportation agencies to adopt the Safe System Approach. The Safe System Approach (SSA) is a human-centered approach that anticipates human mistakes and accommodates human vulnerabilities by designing and operating the roadway system to be safe for everyone—particularly for people who are disproportionately impacted by crash fatalities and serious injuries. To reach zero deaths and serious injuries, the SSA should be applied equitably to address these disparities.
Equity ensures the specific needs of underserved communities are taken into account and addressed. Incorporating equity into roadway safety should involve working with underserved communities to:
- Collect and analyze data to identify communities experiencing disparities in roadway fatalities and serious injuries.
- Engage community representatives to understand their transportation safety needs and build trust.
- Implement improvements in safety planning, funding, design, operations, and asset management processes to eliminate disparities in traffic fatalities and serious injuries.
- Evaluate impacts by monitoring outcomes and working to continuously improve safety outcomes with communities.
Some resources that can assist in applying Equity into Transportation Safety:
- Equity in Roadway Safety Webinar Series
- Equity in Transportation Public Roads Magazine
- Integrating Equity into the Safe System Approach Presentation
- Noteworthy Practices:
- California: Integrating the Safe System Approach and Equity into California’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan
- Minnesota: MnDOT’s SPACE Tool: Using Equity Data to Inform Active Transportation Safety
- San Francisco: Equity Approaches for Vision Zero
- Virginia: “E is for Everybody”: Using Equity to Prioritize Pedestrian Safety Projects and Make the Case for Greater State Funding
- FHWA Title VI of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Additional Nondiscrimination Requirements
- FHWA Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (504)
- FHWA Equity in Transportation for Planners
- Equity at US DOT