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Dear Road to Zero Colleagues,
It has been just over a year since I joined the National Safety Council. In that time, I have had the opportunity to engage in its programs, meet partners and explore ways to grow our mission. One of the programs I have had the privilege to be a part of is the Road to Zero Coalition. I have been inspired to see how so many members of the Coalition have responded to the recent events impacting our country and the world.
Over the last several months, I have seen so many of you sharing resources, information and observations about the impact of the pandemic on transportation across the U.S. There is no doubt that this crisis has caused us all to rethink how – and where – people are safely moving and the accessibility of transportation options.
Just as important, roadway safety and transportation must be part of any discussion around equity and race, including conversations taking place all around the country in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
The ability to move safely and freely is a foundation of our country, and since its inception, the U.S. has worked hard to create systems to move people, goods and services. This hard work has created access to school and work, enabled people to be with friends and family, and driven a strong economy. But that work has not been without its challenges and, too often, past decisions made in the name of transportation improvements have failed Black, Indigenous and People of Color. Research shows that People of Color suffer higher rates of traffic fatalities and severe injuries, that drivers are less likely to yield to Black people walking and biking, and that frequently programs and policies to support safety – such as those around jaywalking – disproportionately burden communities of color.
I am asking that we come together to focus on safe mobility for all people, to engage new partners already working in transportation equity, and perhaps most importantly, to listen, learn and reflect as to how we can all be part of the solution to address disparities in transportation safety. None of us has all the answers to what this will look like, but together I know we can find them. To that end, I am pleased to share that Road to Zero Coalition members will be invited to lead a series of roundtable learning sessions this summer to inform and improve our work.
We need to examine ways to deploy and scale good, strategic and proven education, enforcement and engineering solutions that work to support our shared goals to eliminate all roadway-related fatalities and severe injuries. I look forward to joining this important conversation. In the meantime, here are additional resources for you to explore:
– Lorraine M. Martin
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:
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 encourages fostering a safety culture and adopting a Safe Systems approach. Many businesses have improved fatality and injury rates by 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. Coalition membership is continuously growing. If your organization is interested in joining the Road to Zero initiative, please fill out this form.
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Imagine a world with no roadway fatalities. Three strategies will lead the way.
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