US GAO says Department of Transportation Not Doing Enough to Ensure Bicyclist Safety

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By Charles Pekow

The US Department of Transportation (DoT) needs to develop performance assessment measures to evaluate efforts to improve bicyclist safety. It also needs to collect, analyze and share data on state strategies, says a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have “not fully incorporated performance management practices into (their) pedestrian and cyclist safety efforts,” says PEDESTRIANS AND CYCLISTS: Better Information to States and Enhanced Performance Management Could Help DOT Improve Safety, GAO's report.

Of 26 “countermeasures” for bicycle and pedestrian safety NHTSA lists, only three have proven very effective, GAO states. Bicycle helmet laws for children works best, followed by helmet laws for adults and pedestrian safety zones in high-crash areas.

DoT agreed on the information need and said it will work on it. But it also said some of the other countermeasures are more effective than GAO gives credit for. It also replied that it's hard to judge the impact of something like training on safety. GAO also says we don't know enough about how cyclist “distraction and impairment” affects safety.

DoT is working on a new bike/ped safety plan. It developed a five-year plan in 2016 but officials from both NHTSA and FHWA said the Trump Administration foiled it. The agencies intend to start a new five-year plan this year.

Find the report at https://www.gao.gov/assets/gao-21-405.pdf

 

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