NLC Launches Safety First Challenge

December 6, 2021 - (4 min read)

Initiative to gather 100 cities, towns, and villages in 100 days to create safer streets.

Washington, D.C. – On Monday, December 6, the National League of Cities (NLC) introduced a new Safety First Challenge, an initiative to build a street safety coalition of 100 cities, towns and villages in 100 days to advance a safety first approach to transportation decisions.

The U.S. Department of Transportation reported more than 20,000 people died on U.S. roads in the first six months of 2021, indicating that deaths on U.S. roads are not improving even when Americans are driving less. The United Nations is also raising the issue of road safety internationally calling for a “Decade of Action on Road Safety.”  

Many U.S. cities and towns have started safety efforts, including over 40 Vision Zero cities, and the new Safety First Challenge builds on this momentum to make communities safer for all residents. To join the challenge, local leaders can commit to taking at least one action to advance street safety in their community such as hosting a local safety roundtable, gathering traffic safety data, engaging in neighborhood outreach on road safety, beginning a Local Road Safety Plan, or piloting a demonstration project. Focusing on safer streets can save lives, decrease traffic crashes and improve safety for everyone on streets and sidewalks. 

“America’s local leaders have seen far too many of our neighbors losing their lives on our roads so it’s time to use our national presence in every community to challenge the status quo. City leaders know focusing on safer streets can save lives, decrease traffic crashes and ensure that every one of our residents makes it home safely. I encourage all our local leaders to join us in the Safety First Challenge because together we can save lives and make our streets safer,” said NLC President Vince Williams, Mayor of Union City, Georgia. 

“Cities and towns are making safety for all residents central to our transportation decisions as we strive for zero fatalities on our roads and sidewalks,” said Council President Elaine Clegg, incoming Chair of NLC’s Transportation and Infrastructure Services Committee. “By establishing a new safety program just for communities in their bipartisan infrastructure bill, Congress is bringing on cities and towns as partners in making the nation’s roads safer and saving American lives, and we’re excited to challenge communities across the country to join this movement.”

The historic, bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law in November includes a “Safe Streets for All” program for local governments, a new federal-local partnership opportunity for cities to work on safety projects in their hometowns. This program will assist cities, towns and villages as they work to save lives and prevent traffic fatalities in their communities. 

To join the “Safety First Challenge,” local leaders from cities and towns will: 

  1. Share their intention to join in the Safety First Challenge here.
  2. Make a statement of purpose on their safety goals. 
  3. Commit to take at least one of the 7 Challenge Actions to advance safety in their community. 

NLC is committed to advancing road safety and serves as a steering group member of the national “Road to Zero” Coalition organized by the National Safety Council in conjunction with federal agencies and road safety partners. On November 19, NLC membership also approved a new 2022 resolution for safety, Advancing Safety for All to Reach Vision Zero with Policies that Achieve Safe, Healthy and Equitable Mobility for All


The National League of Cities (NLC) is the voice of America’s cities, towns and villages, representing more than 200 million people across the country. NLC works to strengthen local leadership, influence federal policy and drive innovative solutions. Stay connected with NLC on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.