NHTSA Aims to End Auto Accident Deaths Within 30 Years

Several federal transportation agencies have joined together to initiate a 30-year plan, which aims to end all traffic fatalities through the use of evolving technology, roadway design strategies, and by supplying funding to organizations developing lifesaving programs. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the Road to Zero Coalition initiative on October 5, which will attempt to completely eliminate roadway fatalities by focusing specifically on infrastructure design, vehicle technology, speed enforcement, and operator behavioral safety.

The Road to Zero Coalition was initiated by the NHTSA in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), National Safety Council (NSC) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The agencies have collaborated to prevent roadway deaths, and have pledged to issue $1 million in grant money annually for the next three years to organizations working on lifesaving programs.

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Understanding that the total elimination of all roadway fatalities is an extremely challenging task, the agencies will focus their initial efforts on promoting proven life-saving strategies by improving seat belt use through enforcement, installing rumble strips in known hazardous veering off sections of highways, improving commercial truck safety, and running behavior change campaigns to educate and alert the public.

Long term approach strategies to eliminate roadway fatalities will include the development of new evidence-based strategies and systematic approaches that eliminate the risks that cause many fatal highway collisions.

The agencies plan to develop strategies similar to those used in the Swedish 1997 “Vision Zero” plan, which is based on the principal that all traffic fatalities are preventable and can be stopped through the use of strategic design and development of safer infrastructure.

“The ‘4Es’ – Education, Engineering, Enforcement and Emergency Medical Services – provide a reliable roadmap for driving down fatalities. Coupled with new technologies and innovative approaches to mobility, we may now hold the keys that get us to zero,” Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council, said in the press release. “The Road to Zero Coalition affirms that it will take ALL of us working together in new ways to eliminate preventable deaths.”

Another major part of the Road to Zero Coalition will be to encourage the development and perfecting of vehicle based safety technologies, so that inevitable human mistakes do not result in fatalities. Through funding of organizations creating these technologies, the agency can encourage both developers and the industry to incorporate safety based technologies in vehicles.

The Road to Zero Coalition was announced just after preliminary estimates for the first half of 2016 were released this month, indicating a significant increase in traffic fatalities. According to the NHTSA, fatality rates appear to have increased about 10.4 percent within the first six months of 2016 when compared to the first half of 2015.

An uptick in fatalities in 2016 would mean the nation is on a negative pathway of decreasing traffic fatalities, since the NHTSA considered 2015 a horrific year in traffic related fatalities, recording the highest number of deaths since 1996.


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