LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The federal government is putting money into Arkansas to improve driver safety.

United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg announced Wednesday that his office had awarded over $2 million in grants for Arkansas highway planning. The Arkansas funding is part of the $810 million in grants for 510 projects nationwide.

Grants were awarded to Metroplan, the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission Metropolitan Planning Organization, Mississippi County and the cities of Batesville, Fort Smith and Forrest City.

The grant funding will be used to develop an action plan for the National Roadway Safety Strategy. The safety strategy was launched in January 2022 to make roadways safer for drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and emergency and construction workers by stressing responsible driving, safer roadway designs, appropriate speed-limit setting, and improved post-crash care, among other strategies. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic fatalities reached a 16-year high in 2021. A recent study by the agency showed that traffic crashes had a $340 billion national impact in 2019.

The national program is funded through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, allocated at $5 billion over five years. The next round of funding at $1.1 billion is expected to be released in April.

A DOT visualization tool shows crash hotspots around the country, including Arkansas.