Traffic Safety: Study Indicates U.S. Lags behind Other Developed Countries
Although the U.S. achieved a 19 percent reduction in auto accident fatalities during a recent 15-year period, this reduction pales in comparison to that of a number of other developed countries according to a new report by the Transportation Research Board.
Traffic fatalities declined in 15 other industrial nations during the same period by an average of 50 percent. The U.S. has successfully reduced auto accident fatality rates per kilometer driven by 500 percent since 1950. Still the U.S. has not been able to achieve the same level of reduction in car accident rates as many other industrialized nations.
It is somewhat troubling that almost every high income nation has obtained more substantial improvements in terms of vehicle safety and accident reduction than the U.S. including some countries that had a higher accident fatality rate just twenty years ago. A number of factors are presumed to account for the discrepancy including differences in road design and traffic control as well as regulation and enforcement of driving laws relating to seatbelt use, DUI, motorcycle helmet use and speed. We have provided an overview of the differences between the U.S. and other comparable countries below:
- Road Design/Traffic Signals: Roadway design, construction and maintenance are typically handled by a single agency with national jurisdiction in other countries. The U.S. relies on a makeshift diffusion of responsibility between a variety of agencies at the federal state and local level. This diffusion of responsibility makes it more difficult for the U.S. to develop coordinated traffic safety policy. Other high-income countries also make much greater use of roundabouts, which can substantially reduce intersection accidents.
- DUI Laws/Enforcement: While the use of sobriety checkpoints is controversial in the U.S., they are widely used in comparable countries. Another difference is that the level at which a driver is considered intoxicated is .08 percent BAC in the U.S. while the level is .05 in some comparable countries.
- Speeding Enforcement: Many other countries make extensive use of speeding enforcement cameras. Because traffic enforcement cameras are used extensively and drivers are widely aware of their presence, speeding is more strictly enforced. The resulting reductions in speed reduce the number of traffic collisions.
- Differences in Attitude: The study also identifies a fundamental difference in the attitude of those in the U.S. and other countries. Authors of the study suggest that most in the U.S. have accepted the premise that traffic fatalities are an unavoidable consequence of the use of motor vehicles. Other countries believe that auto accidents can be eliminated and that policymakers have a responsibility to take steps to do so.
- Universal Use of Motorcycle Helmets: While the countries used for comparison have laws mandating universal helmet use, the U.S. has thirty states in which motorcycle helmets are not required for all riders.
It is hoped that this study may provide insight into ways we can make the roads safer for drivers in Atlanta and throughout Georgia and the U.S. If you or your loved one is injured in an Atlanta car accident or Georgia car accident caused by a careless driver, you may have a right to damages for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses, disability from your occupation and other losses. Montlick and Associates has been representing those injured or tragically killed in Atlanta car accidents and Georgia car accidents for nearly three decades.
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