Road to Zero, Traffic Safety Leaders Call on Biden Administration to Commit to Zero Deaths by 2050

More than 74 organizations and individuals sign on to letter urging pledge to eliminate roadway deaths.

January 20, 2021

Itasca, IL – The nation’s largest coalition of traffic safety organizations – Road to Zero – along with Toward Zero Deaths, Vision Zero Network, Families for Safe Streets and 74 partner organizations and individuals, sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to commit the efforts of the federal government to achieve zero roadway deaths by 2050. The letter was sent as President Biden began announcing his most urgent priorities, and as Secretary-designate of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, met with senators for the first time ahead of his confirmation hearing.

While the new administration’s immediate focus will be rightly on ending the COVID-19 pandemic, the group urges the president not to overlook persistent killers across the nation – many of which have been exacerbated by the pandemic, including roadway deaths. About 100 people lose their lives on any given day on the nation’s roadways, with traffic crashes being the leading cause of death for people ages 1-25. Tragically, President Biden and his family have been personally impacted, having lost his first wife and daughter in a crash in 1972. 

“Roadway deaths have been a leading killer in our nation for decades,” said Lorraine Martin, chair of the Road to Zero Coalition and president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “Our organizations look forward to working with the new administration, and we stand ready to assist in any way we can.”

“Ensuring safe mobility for all community members should be a core component of President Biden’s commitment to Build Back Better,” said Leah Shahum, director of the national Vision Zero Network, supporting more than 45 U.S. communities committed to zero traffic deaths or severe injuries. “Now is the time to recognize how interconnected traffic safety goals are with the critical national priorities of overcoming the pandemic, advancing racial and economic justice, and investing in the health of our planet.”

“We look forward to working with the Biden Administration and the USDOT on implementing the strategies identified in the Toward Zero Deaths national strategy," said Jim Tymon, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, on behalf of the Toward Zero Deaths program. "We need to work aggressively to use tried and true as well as innovative strategies to eliminate fatalities on our nation’s roads.”

“As individuals who have also been personally impacted by traffic violence, Families for Safe Streets members across the country are counting on President Biden to help prevent the needless suffering that he, too, has personally experienced. These deaths have bisected our lives and fractured our families. Our country needs a leader who will commit to #ZeroTrafficDeaths and end this devastating, preventable public health crisis. We are confident that President Biden, with support from soon-to-be Secretary Buttegieg at USDOT, can be this leader,” said Amy Cohen, co-founder, Families for Safe Streets, and mother of Sammy Cohen Eckstein (Dec. 8, 2000-Oct. 8, 2013).

In 2018, the Road to Zero Coalition issued a report detailing what the U.S. must do to eliminate roadway fatalities by 2050. Actions included the need for the U.S. to prioritize safety by adopting a Safe System approach. The Safe System approach – implemented in countries around the world with proven success – includes redesigning roads to engineer out common risks and mitigate driver errors that lead to high-consequence crashes.

Groups, organizations, companies and individuals interested in signing on to the letter can do so here. Signatories are being accepted now as the partners work to draw attention to this important issue. A multifaceted media campaign is also underway, with victim impact stories being shared on social media. 

For more information, please visit nsc.org/roadtozero.

About the Road to Zero Coalition
The Road to Zero Coalition provides a coordinated, data-driven response to the increase in roadway deaths, with a goal of getting to zero traffic fatalities by 2050. Road to Zero was founded in 2016 by a group of public and private entities, including federal and state governments, nonprofit and private sector entities.

About Families for Safe Streets
Families for Safe Streets confronts the epidemic of traffic violence by advocating for life-saving changes and providing support to those who have been impacted by crashes. Comprised of individuals who have been injured or lost loved ones, FSS was founded in 2014 in New York City and is growing as a national movement with chapters across the country.

About Vision Zero Network 
Vision Zero Network is a national nonprofit advancing the goal of safe mobility for all -- zero traffic deaths or severe injuries among all road users.

About Toward Zero Deaths 
Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) is a national strategy on highway safety to advocate for eliminating serious injuries and deaths on our nation’s roadways, conceptualized by safety practitioners, researchers, advocates, and others from a variety of disciplines. The strategy calls for all stakeholders to champion the idea that one death on our nation’s roadways is too many, and we must all work together to bring the annual number of roadway deaths down to zero.

About the National Safety Council
The National Safety Council is America’s leading nonprofit safety advocate – and has been for over 100 years. As a mission-based organization, we work to eliminate the leading causes of preventable death and injury, focusing our efforts on the workplace, roadway and impairment. We create a culture of safety to not only keep people safer at work, but also beyond the workplace so they can live their fullest lives.

Partner with NSC

With a century-long legacy, the National Safety Council is a global center for safety expertise. Let's work together to align resources. We look forward to learning about ways we can join efforts to expand safety everywhere!

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