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Safety for All: Equity in Moving Toward Zero Deaths

December 14, 2022 09:00 AM
By: Jennifer Kuntch


"Our roads are not truly safe unless they are safe for EVERYONE." -Cheryl Walker, Associate Administrator for Safety, Federal Highway Administration Office of Safety

More than a year ago, PennDOT released the department's first Dismantling Systemic Racism and Inequities (DSRI) report, which evaluates PennDOT's diversity and inclusion efforts. The report discussed how PennDOT can achieve greater equity in the areas of contracting, public involvement, community investment, our boards and commissions, and of course, PennDOT's own internal culture.

Transportation equity doesn't stop there. It's also about safety on our roadways. PennDOT often says traffic safety is everyone's responsibility. It is – we all must work together to keep our roadways safe. But it is also everyone's right.

Everyone's safety on our roadways is a priority for PennDOT, but is our safety programming reaching everyone? Traffic safety is facing two significant problems – a rise in fatalities and disparities in those crash outcomes. It's more important than ever to identify and reach underserved communities across the state to achieve our goal of reducing fatalities on Pennsylvania roadways.

Recently, PennDOT gathered department Safety Press Officers, safety grantees, law enforcement partners, child passenger safety experts, and other partners to share ideas and successes from across the state. At this annual workshop, PennDOT Director of Equitable Transportation Nicole Tyler, along with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Regional Administrator Rich Simon, and NHTSA Regional Program Manager Allison Beas, led a conversation on equity related to traffic safety.

PennDOT safety grantees, comprised of 18 regional Community Traffic Safety Projects (CTSP) across Pennsylvania, implement comprehensive highway safety programming in their respective communities throughout the year. These grantees have been called to ensure meaningful engagement with communities in their regions who are disproportionately affected by traffic deaths.

The grantees will be working to identify the challenges in their geographic area, as well as the relevant stakeholders. They will bring together key leaders from government, advocacy, community organizations, local industry, and more to build a collective alliance that will address safety through an equity lens. These groups will work together to see things from a new perspective, with a clearer focus contributing to full inclusion and participation by all, so that everyone can benefit from safe roads.

Working together, we can reduce fatalities and move toward zero deaths on our roadways.

If you have a stake in traffic safety in your neighborhood and would like to join the conversation, contact PennDOT Highway Safety Outreach Programs Manager Christy Timbrell at and she will connect you with the appropriate CTSP.

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