How Do We Make Roads Safer?

Each year, tens of thousands of people are killed and injured on American roads.

Each year, tens of thousands of people are killed and injured on American roads. And though private organizations and government institutions focus on ways to lower the risk for American drivers, the topic of road safety doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves.

Do you ever wonder whether there’s anything we can do, collectively, to make our roads safer?

Five Tips for Safer Roads

Most people assume their biggest driving threats loom when they’re traveling at high speeds on the interstate, but this is not the case. “Ironically, the part of driving that people fear the most turns out to be the safest part. Federal transportation data have consistently shown that highways are considerably safer than other roads,” author Jeff Wise explains.

“For instance, in 2007 0.54 people were killed for every 100 million vehicle miles driven on urban interstates, compared with 0.92 for every 100 million vehicle miles driven on other urban highways and arterials, and 1.32 killed on local urban streets.”

So if we want to reduce risk, what we need to do is focus on making our local roads safer. Here are five essential suggestions.

Eliminate Distracted Driving

Distracted driving has continued to be one of the leading factors in traffic crashes over the last five or so years. Fortunately, more state governments are stepping up and adopting hands-free laws that make it illegal for drivers to hold their phone while behind the wheel.

But distracted driving isn’t just a technology problem. Believe it or not, one of the other leading causes of distracted driving is eating while driving. US citizens need to become more aware of which actions qualify as distractions so they can make a more conscious and effective effort to drive more safely.

Get Trucks Off the Road

“Basic physics means that trucks take longer to stop, require more room to negotiate turns, and are more likely to roll over or jackknife,” the lawyers of Teddy, Meekins & Talbert explain. “Truckers who fail to take their vehicle’s limitations into account may be at fault for a crash caused by excessive speed, tailgating or other forms of aggressive driving.”

Although truck drivers have to be held accountable for their actions, we can also do other drivers a favor by restricting which roads tractor-trailers are allowed to enter and operate on (as well as when). This has the potential to save thousands of lives each year.

Re-engineer Our Roads

We can also lower risks by re-engineering our roads to make them safer. This certainly won’t prevent all accidents, it will surely reduce the frequency of certain types of them.

Safety Edge technology is one example. “The Safety Edge is a simple engineering solution that can help save lives. This design strategy shapes the edge of the pavement with a 30-degree lip that prevents drivers from dropping off the road if they drift on the way,” explains.

“The asphalt Safety Edge provides a durable and robust safety feature that allows drivers to re-enter the roadway safely even at higher speeds because it helps stabilize and redirect vehicles as they enter the roadway.”

In addition to the Safety Edge, better corridor access management, more reflective signage, and smarter medians and pedestrian islands could all save thousands of lives per year.

Improve Vehicle Safety Tech

Cars and trucks have become much safer over the years, and likely will continue to in the years to come. When you purchase your next vehicle, make sure to research the safety features that are new to the market since your last car-shopping expedition. Simple lane-assist or backup cameras could save you or your loved ones’ lives.

Encourage Better Vehicle Maintenance

Many roadway accidents result directly from preventable vehicle malfunctions. In order to avoid such incidents proactively, drivers should do a better job of maintaining their vehicle.

In particular, tires, brakes, rotors, and lights should be maintained, repaired, and replaced at regular intervals.

Everyone Has a Part to Play

This isn’t an “us” and “them” conversation. We are all responsible for the safety of our roads.

Each of us has his or her own unique role to play, and it’s imperative that we work together to make our roads and streets safer for drivers, bikers, and pedestrians. We can do this!

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