According to data from the National Safety Council, deaths and injuries from vehicle crashes were down in the first half of 2017, compared to the first half of 2016. Through June 30, there were 18,689 crash fatalities in the United States, which is about 1 percent fewer than in the same time period the year before. However, the NSC says that number is still too high.
In a press release about the fatality numbers, NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman said, “Although the numbers may be leveling off, the Road to Zero deaths will require accelerating improvements in technology, engaging drivers and investing in our infrastructure.”
Striving for Zero Fatalities
In October 2016, the NSC announced its new Road to Zero initiative, which is a joint effort involving the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Many other organizations have joined the Road to Zero coalition — among them, the Texas A&M Institute – Center for Transportation Safety.
Road to Zero’s mission is to eliminate traffic fatalities by the year 2050. The program is similar to – but not as ambitious as – Austin’s Vision Zero initiative. Vision Zero aims to reduce traffic-related deaths to zero by the year 2025.
Both the NSC and Austin’s zero-fatality goal outline similar strategies, such as public education that raises awareness about driving behaviors and citizens’ roles in eliminating fatalities. Road to Zero’s vision includes “strategic deployment of self-driving cars,” as a means of improving roadway safety. And both efforts promote infrastructure improvements.
How Infrastructure Can Help
Roadway design, traffic patterns, traffic signals, and areas for pedestrians and cyclists all play a role in overall traffic-related injuries and fatalities. According to Austin’s Vision Zero Report Card, the city has already made several infrastructure changes to improve safety, which include:
- Intersection improvements, either completed or in the design phase
- Addition or improvement of 28.8 miles of bicycle lanes
- Construction of 8.1 miles of new sidewalks and improvement of 6.6 miles of existing sidewalks
- Addition of 76 pedestrian crossings, eight of which have signals.
The infrastructure changes in Austin, along with an increase in public education campaigns and police enforcement, seem to be making a difference in some areas. The report card shows:
- Fatal crashes of all types – vehicle, motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian – fell to 79 in 2016, from 102 in 2015; the number of people seriously injured decreased by 42.
- Fatal car crashes decreased to 36 in 2015, from 50 in 2015.
- While pedestrian and cyclist fatalities did not decrease, fewer pedestrians (52) were injured in 2016 than in 2015 (61).
There’s still much work to be done, and for Vision Zero and Road to Zero to meet their objectives, all citizens will have to recognize how their own behavior affects others. Until every driver is responsible, careful, and mindful about safety, traffic fatalities and injuries may be ongoing.
If you have questions about how this topic might apply to your situation, discuss it with one of the attorneys at the Austin, TX-based Evans Law Firm. As personal injury attorneys with years of experience, we help the people of Texas put their lives back on track. We offer small law firm attention with big law firm results. Call today at 1-855-414-1012 or fill out this online contact form to find out how we can help you.