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Traffic fatalities rose an estimated 10.5% in 2021, reach 16-year high, NHTSA reports

Trend in fatality rate for vehicle miles traveled decreased for three quarters of 2021

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Traffic fatalities across the U.S. rose 10.5% in 2021 to a projected 42,915 deaths, reaching a 16-year high, according to statistics released today by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

That projected increase from 38,824 fatalities in 2020 is “the highest number of fatalities since 2005 and the largest annual percentage increase in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System’s history,” NHTSA announced today.

ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner expressed concern over the record-breaking fatality rate.

“ATSSA’s members have devoted their lives to roadway safety and providing the infrastructure and technology needed to save the lives of the motoring public as well as men and women working on our roadways,” Tetschner said. “This unprecedented increase in traffic fatalities brings home the importance of our work and the necessity of government and private industry partnering to provide safe thoroughfares. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which was enacted into law in November, provides historic levels of federal funding for roadway safety infrastructure projects. Departments of transportation around the country, including the U.S. Department of Transportation, must prioritize getting these funds to critical, lifesaving safety projects as soon as possible. We know that safer roads save lives. ATSSA members are ready to go to work with their agency partners to move toward zero deaths on all roads.”

ATSSA urges DOTs to support a standardized form for QPL and APL

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ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner reached out to the leaders of departments of transportation (DOTs) in all 50 states asking for their support for a standardized form for the Qualified Products List (QPL) and the Approved Products List (APL).

In a letter, Tetschner explains that a standardized form would help roadway safety products get to market faster by streamlining the current burdensome process of making a different application for every DOT across the country.

"If you are not aware, each DOT manages its QPL/APL submittals, reviews and approvals differently and this means each company wishing to see a product added to the list must go through the process 50 times, frequently in different ways with different forms, resulting in a very time-consuming, labor-intensive process,” Tetschner states in the letter. “This burdensome process delays getting new and improved products onto the roadways where they could save lives.”

The letter is signed by the president of each of ATSSA’s Chapters, which represent 1,500 member companies from across the country as well as many public agencies.

ATSSA leading push against efforts to suspend gas taxes

Members urged to contact their elected representatives and voice their concerns

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ATSSA has launched a nationwide effort to discourage states and Congress from suspending the collection of taxes on gasoline noting the surge in roadway fatalities over the past two years.

Some in Congress and some in state governments across the country have proposed temporarily cutting gas taxes as a way to help consumers amid inflation and sudden hikes in gas prices. However, the temporary measure would not necessarily benefit consumers but would deter improvements to roadway infrastructure at a time when such projects had just received approval for significant funding, ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner noted.

The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) became law in November and includes nearly $23 billion for roadway safety, funding necessary to help move the nation Toward Zero Deaths on its highways.

Federal and state taxes on gasoline and diesel are important sources of revenue for funding roadway safety improvements.

ATSSA’s 2022 Convention & Traffic Expo reunited thousands of roadway safety advocates

ATSSA travels to Phoenix for the 2023 event set for Feb. 17-21

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ATSSA’s 2022 Convention & Traffic Expo brought together more than 3,200 roadway safety advocates over five days in Tampa, Fla.

They collaborated, networked, learned about the latest innovations and even cheered on their favorite team at the Chairman’s Big Game Watch Party on Sunday evening.

Keynote speaker Scott Moore kept the packed crowd in the Ballroom of the Tampa Convention Center spellbound as he shared leadership and teamwork tips gleaned from his decades leading the elite Navy SEALs on “no fail” missions.

And Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg talked about the USDOT commitment to zero deaths on the nation's roadways while acknowledging that may not be achieved during his tenure but that ATSSA's members are needed to achieve that goal.

It's not too early to start planning now for next  year. The 2023 Convention & Traffic Expo takes place in Phoenix, Feb. 17-21 at the Phoenix Convention Center with the theme of “where roadway safety and Innovation intersect.”

ATSSA reacts to USDOT release of National Roadway Safety Strategy

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The National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS) unveiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) on Thursday focuses on moving the U.S. towards zero roadway deaths by taking a safe systems approach that includes six central themes.

The themes laid out are that: deaths and serious injuries are unacceptable; human mistakes are inevitable; humans are vulnerable to injury and death; there is a shared responsibility for these incidents; safety can be and should be proactive; and redundancy is critical. The strategy introduced by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg also focuses on five safety issues.

“ATSSA applauds Secretary Buttigieg on the release of the first National Roadway Safety Strategy, especially with its call for the enhanced protection of roadway construction workers," ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner said. "Shining a brighter spotlight on the need to dramatically reduce roadway fatalities is critically necessary.”

Supreme Court blocks vaccine mandate for large employers

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The Supreme Court today issued a ruling blocking a Biden administration effort to require employees of large employers to get a COVID-19 vaccine or undergo weekly testing and wear a mask.

The court, however, allowed a vaccine mandate for most U.S. health care workers.

The court ruled 6-3 in the employer case, which applies to organizations with at least 100 employees.

OSHA releases update regarding COVID-19 vaccine mandate

Information follows Friday court decision on OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released an update on the “COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing” Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) in the wake of Friday’s federal court ruling reinstating the Biden administration’s mandate for vaccination or testing.

The ETS applies to employers with 100 or more employees companywide. It states that “covered employers must develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to choose to either be vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work.”

OSHA's statement addresses providing employers time to come into compliance with the ETS requirements.

ATSSA offers resources as vaccine mandates pose challenges

Online resources aid understanding of changing requirements, legal status

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Two years into the global pandemic, businesses face ongoing challenges and uncertainty brought on by COVID-19.

Supply chains are impacted. Workforce issues confront employers of all sizes. And vaccine mandates threaten to intrude on daily operations.

As mandates make their way through the courts, companies are in limbo as they seek to navigate the maze of rules and regulations across the country and at every level of government.

With that in mind, ATSSA assembled key documents and resources to assist members.

Smith: ATSSA members’ diligence made a difference with IIJA

ATSSA Town Hall breaks down details of the infrastructure bill

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ATSSA Vice President of Engagement Nate Smith told ATSSA members today that their diligence over the past 15 to 20 years played a significant role in the funding coming to roadway safety under the new infrastructure law.

“You all should pat yourselves on the back,” Smith said during an ATSSA Town Hall to discuss the impact of the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was signed into law on Monday. “This is a job well done.”

The $1.2 trillion measure is a historic investment in transportation funding and includes a 5-year, $304 billion investment in roads and bridges, Smith said. He noted that’s a 34% increase over current spending for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and translates into $16.8 billion over five years for the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP).

Smith said he’s confident the HSIP funding will mean additional opportunities for ATSSA members.

US Court of Appeals sets oral argument date for FCC case

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The U.S. Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on Jan. 25 in the case of multiple transportation organizations to block a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) order to redistribute a portion of the safety spectrum.

The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network (AREDN) appealed the FCC’s Nov. 18, 2020 order to reallocate a portion of the 5.9 GHz spectrum band to unlicensed uses including WiFi.

The FCC voted unanimously to reallocate more than half of the safety band. The new rules adopted by the FCC make the lower 45 megahertz (MHz) of the spectrum available for unlicensed uses and require Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) licensees to stop using that portion of the spectrum within a year.

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