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VIDEO: Senator Peters Convenes Hearing on Roadway Safety Crisis in America

Michigan Business Network
May 22, 2024 2:00 PM


Nearly 41,000 Americans Died in Roadway Accidents Last Year; Hearing Identifies Causes and Ways to Improve Roadway Safety at the Local Level

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, Maritime, Freight, and Ports, convened a subcommittee hearing today to examine the roadway safety crisis in America. In 2023, nearly 41,000 people died in roadway accidents in the United States, including 1,040 people in Michigan. The hearing identified causes of the roadway safety crisis, including the unique risks to pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists, and ways that Congress can support a holistic approach to improving roadway safety. During the hearing, Peters highlighted how the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act made significant investments to improve roadway safety at the local level, including $5 billion for the new Safe Streets and Roads for All grant program. 

“Every day, unfortunately, more than 100 Americans lose their lives on our roads. If trends continue, we expect more than 40,000 fatalities this year and hundreds of thousands of serious injuries. That means thousands of families are going to be torn apart by preventable crashes,” Peters said during his opening statement. “Also, over-represented in these tragedies are Black, Hispanic, and Native Americans, as well as Americans living in rural areas. We need a strong and comprehensive response, and today we will discuss a holistic safe systems approach to addressing the roadway safety crisis and how we can implement that approach all across our country.” 

“I believe emerging technologies are going to play an important role in this endeavor,” Peters continued. “New interventions, from digital infrastructure that improves crash response to predictive road maintenance and active traffic management, are absolutely essential to achieving safe system goals.” 

The City of Detroit’s Chief of Infrastructure Sam Krassenstein testified at the hearing about the importance of continued federal funding through programs like Safe Streets and Roads for All to help address roadway safety issues at the local level and how community solutions are improving both safety and quality of life for vulnerable road users. Krassenstein is responsible for leading the city’s infrastructure and transportation priorities, collaborating with state and federal partners, and executing major projects. 

“I’m here because Detroit has the unenviable position of having the second highest traffic fatality rate, and the third highest rate for pedestrians in the country. Last year alone, we lost 132 lives to traffic violence amidst the 40,990 people killed nationwide,” Krassenstein said. “As we all seek to reduce fatalities and serious injuries on our roadways, it’s critical to have dedicated safety funding that does not have to compete with maintaining roads and bridges.” 

Krassenstein continued, “We’ve gotten used to not treating streets as public spaces, but only as ways to move traffic. If 40,990 people were killed annually in any other setting, there would rightfully be public outrage and a demand for immediate change. We have normalized the traffic violence that we see in our streets as accidents that just happen rather than crashes that can be avoided. As stewards of the space we have a responsibility at all levels to change that and make these spaces safer for the people that use them.” 

During the hearing, Peters also highlighted that the bipartisan infrastructure law included the Honoring the Abbas Family Legacy to Terminate Drunk Driving Act – a bill Peters helped enact to incorporate drunk driving prevention technology into vehicles to save lives. Peters worked with Rana Abbas Taylor, a Michigander and advocate with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, to advance the legislation in the Senate. Peters is an avid and long-time motorcycle rider. 

To watch video of Senator Peters’ opening remarks and questions, click HERE. For text of Peters’ opening remarks, as delivered, click HERE.  


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