Road to Zero Presents Plan to Eliminate Roadway Deaths

Getting to Zero isn’t Impossible, it Just Hasn’t Been Done Yet


The Road to Zero Coalition, managed by the National Safety Council, released a comprehensive report laying out strategies to end roadway deaths in the U.S. by 2050. It is the first time so many organizations have collaborated to put forth a plan to address motor vehicle fatalities, which recently increased after years of decline.

The Coalition, in a report written by the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institution, identified three main initiatives to reduce roadway fatalities:

  • Double down on what works through proven, evidence-based strategies
  • Advance life-saving technology in vehicles and infrastructure
  • Prioritize safety by adopting a safe systems approach and creating a positive safety culture

“We demand 100 percent safe operations in aviation, marine, pipeline, rail and transit, we should cultivate a corresponding societal demand for safe roads,” said NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. “With these three guidelines, everyone can do something to reduce fatalities on the roadway. Getting to zero fatalities is not impossible – it just hasn’t been done yet.”

The report, A Road to Zero: A vision for achieving zero roadway deaths by 2050, is released in the midst of national discussions about motor vehicle safety issues, such as automated vehicles, investing in infrastructure, distracted driving, and alcohol- and drug-impaired driving. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the traffic safety community is preparing for the annual Lifesavers Conference, the largest gathering of traffic safety professionals in the U.S.

Hersman, chair of the Road to Zero Coalition, will discuss the report and call on stakeholders to embrace their role during her keynote speech at the conference’s Opening Plenary April 22 in San Antonio.

In the short term, the report stresses enforcing and strengthening current traffic safety laws, providing new resources for traffic safety researchers and practitioners, and supporting those who design and build roads and vehicles.

While widespread use of fully automated vehicles is still decades away, the Coalition proposes accelerating the benefits of new technologies by creating partnerships between public safety and health groups and industry professionals.

The report also encourages fostering a safety culture and adopting a safe systems approach. Many businesses have made great improvements in fatality and injury rates through adopting a safety culture, and a number of cities have adopted a Vision Zero strategy incorporating the safe systems approach that accommodates human error. But to be fully effective, these ideas need to spread across the country.

“The safe systems approach has saved lives in other countries. Sweden reduced the number of traffic deaths by more than half since the approach was introduced,” said Liisa Ecola, a senior policy analyst at RAND and lead author of the report. “This shows that we in the U.S. can make large strides in traffic safety with existing technologies and policies.”

The Road to Zero Steering Group has been integral to the creation of this report. The Road to Zero Coalition also supports innovative strategies through the Safe System Innovation grants. Funding was provided in 2017 and 2018.

Coalition membership is continuously growing. If your organization is interested in joining the Road to Zero initiative, please fill out this membership form.

Steering Group and Coalition Members

Steering GroupCoalition Members
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