Many of us have now begun to accept the new normalcy with people returning to their jobs and daily routines. This brings back the heavy hours of commuting and the increase in vehicles on the road; a new alarming report by the NSC (National Safety Council) proves its deadly effects.
According to NSC data, 46,000 people died in road-related incidents in 2021, a 9% increase from 2020. As miles traveled surged, so did the number of preventable deaths to 1.43 per 100 million miles traveled in 2021, which is 19% higher than in 2019. The NSC president and CEO had this to say: “This devastating news serves as yet another wakeup call for this country. We are failing each other, and we must act to prioritize safety for all road users”.
To tackle these effects, the federal government passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act last year, which includes many provisions that are a clear reflection of the Road to Zero report, issued in 2018, that strives to reduce road deaths to zero by 2050.
LET’S DO MORE
While we are rapidly moving on paper, other measures can be taken by federal authorities and local decision-makers to guide the nation toward this zero death goal:
- Installation and use of automated enforcement in an equitable manner to support safe speeds and adherence to traffic lights.
- Increased funding for states to improve traffic safety laws.
- Passing or reinstating motorcycle helmet laws.
- Implementation of laws banning all cell phone use while driving, including hands-free, should extend to all drivers, not just teens.
- Improved impaired driving countermeasures, such as mandatory ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers, lowering state BAC levels to .05, and better education about the nature of impairment.
IT’S A PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
As proud as we are of all these achievements by the government and local law enforcement departments, each user must also take safety personally and contribute to the safety of our roads. Like NSC vice president Mark Chung says: [We need to be] “buckling up, slowing down and driving distraction- and impairment-free. Tens of thousands of lives will be saved.”
To this effect, local law enforcement agencies have the great challenge of educating their communities. Here are a few pieces of advice to keep in mind while putting together a road safety campaign:
Alternate transportation or designated driver: Impaired driving can be caused not only by alcohol or heavy drugs, over-the-counter medicines, opioids, and substances like marijuana can also alter visual functions, cause drowsiness and affect judgment and basic motor skills.
Buckling up: Since their inception in 1975, Seat belts have saved an estimated 374,000 lives in the US.
Preparing before hitting the road: Every user should make sure their car is in optimal condition for driving. Cars need regular oil checks, tire inspections, and repairs. Also, many vehicles have open recalls, and repairs can be done for free at many dealers.
Avoid speeding: More than a quarter of traffic fatalities are caused by speeding. Keep your vehicle at the speed limit and be mindful of pedestrians and bikers, thus keeping all road users safe.
Don’t get distracted: Impairments while driving come in many forms, but without a doubt, cellphones are right at the top of the list. Thousands have died in car crashes; put your phone away and just drive.
Educate your community: Road safety is a concern for all of us; educating our community should always be at the top of the list. A safety stop for a potential reckless driver should consistently be implemented when on patrol.
Road safety is a group effort, and all the weight cannot fall only on law enforcement agencies. Citizens must be the first to be accountable for it and partake in all the efforts to make our roads safer and death-free. This article was brought to you by Kustom Signals, a leading provider of law enforcement speed enforcement and video solutions.