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Steven J. Klearman
Steven J. Klearman
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Road Safety: Why the U.S. Is Falling Behind other Countries

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According to a report released recently by the Road to Zero Coalition, the U.S. is lagging behind 19 other comparable countries in terms of road safety. The report featured data compiled by the World Health Organization and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The report, “The Road to Zero: A vision for achieving zero roadway deaths by 2050,” discussed short term approaches to reduce casualties, including:

  • Enforcing and bolstering current safety requirements
  • Providing funding sources for traffic safety researchers
  • Supporting those who design and construct roads and vehicles
  • Accelerating the benefits of new technologies

 

The report found that many businesses have improved the fatality and injury rates at their companies through the adoption of a more safety-focused culture and some cities are using the Vision Zero strategy, which incorporates an approach that considers human error and shared responsibility among all road users, including those who design and build the roads. But to be the most effective, these ideas need to be embraced across the country.

 

Why Aren’t American Roads Safer?

Americans pay dearly to keep their roads safe. But according to a 2013 report from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, as compared to Sweden, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, the U.S. is relatively loose regarding enforcement of laws that affect safety, such as speeding, seat belt use, and drunk driving. The researchers also found that the blood-alcohol levels enforced in the U.S. are slightly higher than those in comparison countries, Americans have worse rates of seat belt use, and driver much faster on the average.

But the biggest factor concerning the lack of safety on U.S. roads is the fact that Americans driver much more than people in the other countries studied. The average vehicle distance per person in the U.S. from 2006 to 2010 was approximately 9,600 miles, compared to a little over 5,000 miles among drivers in the UK.