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DOT Forms Panel To Improve Highway Safety Across State

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RALEIGH, N.C. — State Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett on Wednesday announced a panel charged with adopting and implementing a strategic action plan to improve highway safety across the state. As part of the plan, the group will evaluate the effectiveness of current highway safety measures and create new steps to reduce the number of crashes along North Carolina highways.

The 21-member panel, which will be known as the Executive Committee for Highway Safety, will include representatives from multiple agencies, including the state Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, North Carolina State Highway Patrol and the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center.

"North Carolina is already a national leader in addressing issues such as passenger safety, work zone safety and the prevention of drunken driving," Tippett said. "Even though fatalities have decreased recently along our highways, I want to raise the bar on safety as high as possible. This panel will help by drawing upon the talents of experts from across the spectrum to develop a concrete action plan for long-term, sustainable results."

Following the framework developed by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the group will examine safety issues divided into six key categories -- drivers; special users, such as pedestrians and cyclists;vehicles; highways; Emergency Medical Services and management. The Executive Committee will meet April 24 to begin developing the plan. The process will involve the creation of working groups that will address the safety issues and evaluate the plan's effectiveness.

Recent statistics show a decrease in traffic crashes along North Carolina highways. In 2001, North Carolina experienced nearly 218,000 reported traffic crashes compared to 220,018 reportable crashes in 2000. Other trends also showed a reduction by more than 30 fewer fatalities and 7,000 fewer injuries in 2001 compared to 2000.

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