Your Monthly Update
February 2022
U.S. DOT Releases National
Roadway Safety Strategy
As the nation grapples with a spike in traffic deaths, the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) announced a new roadmap for addressing issues that are making roads more dangerous and deadly, particularly for people who bike or walk.

The National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS) outlines steps all levels of government can take to design safer roads, reduce alcohol-impaired driving, change dangerous behaviors and boost car safety features that add protections for people not only inside the vehicle, but also outside.

"We cannot tolerate the continuing crisis of roadway deaths in America," U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a press release. "These deaths are preventable."

Among the key actions from the NRSS is the U.S. DOT embracing a "Safe System" approach that acknowledges both human mistakes and vulnerability. This concept takes the whole transportation system into account, rather than just driver behavior. The idea is that safety programs focused in five areas – safer people, safer roads, safer vehicles, safer speeds and post-crash care – add layers of protection so crashes are not serious or deadly.

The NRSS notes the disproportionate impact of traffic deaths on people of color, and encourages the use of safer speeds, speed cameras and "re-engineering roads to slow down vehicles rather than relying primarily on enforcement to manage speeding."

The NRSS also reinforces the importance of equitable enforcement and education as key components to reaching zero deaths.

"The overwhelming majority of serious and fatal crashes includes at least one human behavioral issue as a contributing factor," the NRSS states.

"Amid a surge in roadway deaths the last two years, national leadership on traffic safety is essential for addressing unsafe streets, dangerous driving behaviors – like speeding, driving impaired or distracted, and not buckling up – and other risks that needlessly claim lives on our roads every day," Governors Highway Safety Association Executive Director Jonathan Adkins said in a statement.

“No longer can we as a society accept traffic deaths as routine," said NHTSA Deputy Administrator Dr. Steve Cliff. "Every life lost is a tragedy, and we all can, should, and must do more to change the culture."
OTS Director to Join Follow-Up Panel On Reducing Traffic Deaths Through Safe System Approach
The Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) Director Barbara Rooney will participate in a follow-up panel Feb. 10 with the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), North Carolina's Highway Safety Program, and Safe Kids Worldwide to discuss how to incorporate the Safe System approach into grant programs.

Director Rooney will outline new actions the state is taking to partner with new agencies and expand upon existing programs that encourage community involvement in safety planning.

The panel is a follow-up to a Jan. 18 webinar that discussed a report from GHSA that supports the role of driver responsibility and behavior in the Safe System approach to traffic safety.

The Safe System approach recognizes humans make mistakes and that a combination of better road design, safer speeds, and safer vehicles all add layers of protection to the transportation system that helps reduce the seriousness of crashes.

The panel will also discuss the recently released National Roadway Safety Strategy that serves as a national roadmap for addressing issues that are making roads more dangerous and deadly. Part of the comprehensive set of actions to improve road safety is equitable enforcement and reducing historical racial disparities, where traffic deaths disproportionately impact people of color.

"California has made progress in fundamental ways to implement a Safe System approach,” Director Rooney said during the Jan. 18 webinar. "Getting to zero requires a focus on equity.”

To register for the free webinar, visit the GHSA website.
The OTS, TEAM Coalition and LA Metro to Encourage Safe Transportation to NASCAR Clash at the Coliseum
The OTS is partnering with Techniques for Effective Alcohol Management (TEAM) Coalition and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) to promote the use of ride-hailing services and Metro to get to and from NASCAR's "Clash at the Coliseum" Feb. 5 & 6. Messages encouraging the use of alternate transportation to the Los Angeles Coliseum started appearing Jan. 24 on Metro rail cars, station kiosks and on video walls at the downtown Los Angeles station. The messages will run through the last day of the NASCAR event Feb. 6.
New Partnership with Oakland Arena Encouraging Safe Event Experience
The OTS and California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) are partnering with the Oakland Arena to encourage fans at concerts to have fun responsibly and choose a sober way to get to and from the arena.

Messages will appear along the arena concourse and inside the event space promoting the importance of not driving impaired. Messages will also appear on the Oakland Arena website, e-newsletter and as part of social media campaigns from a local celebrity or artist prior to select events.

"We want to make sure everyone is having a good time but also being responsible," OTS Director Barbara Rooney. "What better way to encourage safe transportation to and from the arena than at a place with easy access to public transportation and ride-hailing services. We are thrilled to work with Caltrans and Oakland Arena on getting this important message out at concerts and events." 
Report: California Highway Safety Laws Receive "Green" Rating
California was one of eight states to receive a "green" rating for showing "significant advancement" in highway safety laws protecting children and other vehicle occupants, a new report by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) found.

The advocacy group's annual Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws ranks states' highway safety laws based on 16 "optimal" laws every state should have in the areas of occupant protection, child passenger safety, young adult drivers, impaired driving and distracted driving.

California received accolades for its strict requirements on child passenger safety seats and primary seat belt law for all vehicle occupants. However, California was called out for not requiring ignition interlock devices for all convicted drunk drivers, as well as for not having a primary enforcement ban on hands-free devices for drivers under 18.

In California, the cell phone ban is a secondary violation, meaning an officer can't stop and cite a driver under 18 solely for using a cell phone. California requires repeat DUI offenders and first-time offenders who cause injury to install an ignition interlock device, but not all first-time offenders are required to use the device.

New public opinion data also released by Advocates found that nearly 75% of those surveyed were not aware of the rise in traffic deaths during the first half of 2021.

The survey results come after National Safety Council estimates indicated 3,413 people were killed in crashes in California in the first nine months of 2021, up 16% from 2020.

The biggest traffic safety concerns among those surveyed were distracted driving from cell phone use and impaired driving.
Study: Colleges Falling
Short of Promoting Biking to Underserved Populations
Colleges could be doing a better job of encouraging the use of biking to and from campuses to underserved populations, new research from Penn State found.

In an article published in the Journal of American College Health, researchers surveyed 51 "Bicycle Friendly Universities" about what they are doing to encourage bicycling and bicycle safety among underrepresented groups such as people of color, women, individuals with disabilities and low-income.

The researchers found that fewer than 10% of universities incorporate strategies to encourage bicycling by members of underrepresented groups, and only around 2% encourage biking for any underrepresented group other than women. Nearly half of participating universities did not have programs to encourage biking or walking to and from campus.

“As a society, it is our responsibility to provide equitable access to healthy behaviors for everyone,” Melissa Bopp, associate professor of kinesiology at Penn State and co-author of the study, said in a press release. “It is good for individuals. It is good for universities. It is good for towns. It is even good for insurance companies. Everyone wins, and right now, not enough is being done to promote bicycling.” 

The researchers provided several actions universities can take to increase bicycle-related outreach to underrepresented populations, including a partnership with on-and off-campus groups that work with underrepresented populations.
Deadline for UC Berkeley SafeTREC CSSA Applications Extended to Feb. 15
The University of California, Berkeley Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC) has extended their Complete Streets Safety Assessment (CSSA) program application deadline to Feb. 15.

Funded through a grant with the OTS, the CSSA Program helps agencies plan for transportation safety improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians in their communities.

To apply for a CSSA, complete the 2022 application and email it to the CSSA program lead, Afsaneh Yavari at To learn more about the program or if you have questions about the application, you may contact SafeTREC at

Here's an inside look at a CSSA conducted in 2019 in Suisun City, Calif.: 2019 Suisun City CSSA.

SafeTREC is also still accepting applications for their Community Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Training (CPBST) program. The CPBST program works with local residents, schools, agencies, and other safety partners to develop community-driven action plans to improve walking and biking safety.

To apply for a CPBST in your community, download the application on the SafeTREC website and email to Program Manager Marina Ramirez at
The OTS administers traffic safety grants that deliver innovative programs and strives to eliminate traffic fatalities and injuries on California roadways. The OTS is a department under the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA).
Contact the OTS Marketing & Public Affairs Team, 916-708-5128