Data released from the Federal Transportation Department shows that America’s roads are becoming increasingly dangerous with every passing month. The report indicated that 31,720 lives were lost in the first nine months of 2021, up 12 percent on the same period the previous year. Pete Buttigieg, the US Transportation Secretary, said reckless acts such as speeding and failing to wear a seat belt were among the primary root causes.
More vehicles sharing the road
The social distancing rules and recommendations of the past two years have also contributed to the spike in road deaths, as people have avoided public transport and instead traveled by car. More traffic, and in particular an increase in passenger vehicles sharing the roads with commercial vehicles has inevitably led to more accidents.
Yet professional drivers can be as likely to cause fatalities by reckless driving as those in passenger vehicles. In a recent blog post, a Texas-based 18 wheeler wreck attorney cited driver errors such as speeding, cell phone use and driving while impaired as the leading causes of serious accidents.
New safety strategy
Mr Buttigieg unveiled a new national road safety strategy last week, which he anticipates will reverse the trend and set traffic fatalities onto a downward trend. In an Associated Press statement, he said that as humans, we all make mistakes from time to time, whether through fatigue, distraction or simply poor decision making. However, he added that “human fallibility should not lead to human fatalities,” and that’s what he would set out to ensure with his new series of measures.
The government’s new road safety strategy encompasses a number of strands including the following:
- Reduced speed limits
- Redesign of roads to incorporate more bus lanes, cycle lanes and crosswalks
- Improved lighting
- Increased investment in public transit systems
The strategy will also push forward on implementing laws to make certain safety features mandatory on new passenger vehicles. These features are expected to include automatic emergency braking and accident avoidance systems like lane assist. However, there is no firm date for when these requirements will come into force.
Attitude adjustment can save lives
These new measures will undoubtedly have a positive effect, but it is also down to us all as drivers to make America’s roads safer. Road safety experts agree that a change in mindset could have the most dramatic effect of all in reducing fatalities.
We’ve all seen those TV shows and YouTube videos of dashcam footage showing accidents and near misses. But how often is another driver’s mistake or recklessness exacerbated by either impatience or anger on the part of the aggrieved party?
Defensive driving is a UK initiative that is gaining traction in the US. The simple concept is that you assume every other driver on the road is either intoxicated, incompetent or both. Be aware of what’s going on around you, anticipate sudden changes of lane or failures to yield and be ready on the brake pedal instead of the horn. As well as making the roads safer, you’ll arrive at your destination feeling less stressed. Stay safe out there.