Yesterday, the Obama administration committed to a goal of eliminating traffic deaths within 30 years, setting a timeline for the first time on an ambitious agenda that relies heavily on the auto industry’s development of self-driving cars.
The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other agencies laid out a plan that would focus first on promoting efforts such as increased seat belt use, the use of rumble strips and campaigns against drunken and distracted driving.
“We know that setting the bar for safety to the highest possible standard requires commitment from everyone to think differently about safety, from drivers to industry, safety organizations and government at all levels,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
The plan was prompted by a 7.1 percent surge in road deaths last year. Preliminary estimates for the first six months of 2016 released in August by the National Safety Council show the rate of increase has accelerated, with fatalities up to 10.4 percent over the same period last year, according to preliminary NHTSA estimates released Wednesday.
“All of a sudden we’re losing ground,” NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind said at an event in Arlington, Va. “We have an immediate crisis on our hands and we also have a long-term challenge.”
NHTSA is scrambling to determine the exact reasons for the recent spike in deaths, though regulators suspect that distracted driving and an increase in overall miles traveled, which is directly connected with low gasoline prices, are partially to blame.
“Working closely with our partners, both inside and outside the Department, we are committing significant resources to the serious effort being put forth to make the ambitious goal of zero deaths an eventual reality,” said FMCSA Administrator T.F. Scott Darling III. “While we work tirelessly every day to promote safer roadways, we understand that this coalition will only succeed if we all do our part and pledge to make safety our highest priority.”
The “zero deaths” idea was first adopted in Sweden in 1997 as “Vision Zero” and since then has evolved across the country and across the world. A growing number of state and cities have adopted “Zero” fatality visions.
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Thanks to: USA Today