The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is finishing planning on a long-term strategy aimed to completely overhaul the “safety culture” of drivers in the U.S. starting next year. The plan – titled “Toward Zero Deaths: A National Strategy on Highway Safety” suggests re-engineering vehicles, improving roadway design, changing enforcement policies, and informing driver attitudes to make what Jim Toole, FHWA Associate administrator, calls “significant” reductions in highway fatalities and injuries.
Though annual highway fatalities in the U.S. declined to a record low of 33,963 in 2009, Toole reminds drivers that “the fact that we are ‘only’ killing just over 33,000 a year is not cause for celebration.”
FHWA’s “zero death” focus will be on strategic changes that go beyond the “day-in and day-out” policies usually implemented and look at the root of traffic safety problems.
One example would be far wider use of roundabouts to manage traffic at roadway intersections, rather than traffic lights. “It’s very hard to get killed in a roundabout, vs. the ‘T-bone’ style crash we see in standard U.S. intersections today,” Toole said. Another is more integrated planning of roadway design and construction between national, state, and local agencies.
Toole said the “culture” aspect of FHWA’s plan is critical because people make decisions in contexts that are strongly influenced by their social environment. FHWA noted in a briefing paper on its new strategy that traffic crashes are not the result of isolated factors such as an icy road; rather, it is the combination of factors such as a driver deciding to speed on an icy road.
“We also believe, by taking this broad approach to change the traffic ‘safety culture’ in the U.S., we can halve the annual number of projected fatalities by 2020,” Toole added.
Road safety is very important for fleets. Make sure that your drivers know the rules of the road and keep them accountable for their behavior!
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