November 18, 2020

Warren, Carper, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Improve Transportation Safety in Tribal Communities

The Promoting Access to Tribal Health, Wellbeing, and Youth Safety Act would create a new federal program within DOT to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety and promote public health in tribal communities

Bill Text | One-Pager

Washington, DC – As the United States honors National Native American Heritage Month and examines its commitment to support public safety, health, and quality of life in Native American communities, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) joined Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) in introducing the Promoting Access to Tribal Health, Wellbeing, and Youth Safety (PATHWAYS) Act. This legislation would establish a new program within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to oversee federal investments in infrastructure-related projects that focus on improving public safety and promoting public health in tribal communities.

"Tribal nations should not be cut off from accessing critical health care or essential services due to underdeveloped, unsafe, and poorly maintained road networks in their communities. I'm glad to be supporting this legislation to help address long-overdue transportation and infrastructure investments to improve the safety and the public health of tribal communities," wrote Senator Warren.

Many tribal communities have little or no access to adequate transit services and must walk between and within their communities, despite a lack of adequate infrastructure for pedestrians. As a result, unintentional injury—including traffic-related fatalities—is the number one cause of death among American and Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations aged 1-44, and the third highest cause of death for AI/ANs of all ages. The severe disparity in critical surface infrastructure is disproportionately contributing to these public health and safety issues. This legislation would address this problem by authorizing DOT to carry out projects aimed at improving public safety and health in tribal communities through investments in infrastructure. Specifically, the legislation would improve and expand opportunities for non-motorized forms of transportation—from projects that expand options for on-road and off-trail facilities and other non-motorized forms of transportation to projects that ensure students and individuals with disabilities have safer routes  to access daily needs and critical services, such as schools and hospitals.

Senator Warren has been active fighting for increased support for tribal nations and Native communities. In 2019, she and Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus, released a legislative proposal to address chronic underfunding and barriers to sovereignty in Indian Country and hold the federal government accountable for honoring America's legal promises to Native peoples. That proposal included robust funding for transportation infrastructure and improved transit options.