Federal Strategy to Tackle Rise in Car Accident Deaths Unveiled

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Strategy Towards ‘Paradigm Shift’ in Roadway Safety Unveiled by D.O.T

Strategy Towards ‘Paradigm Shift’ in Roadway Safety Unveiled by D.O.T

Jan 28, 2022

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has unveiled a federal strategy aimed at improving traffic safety on a national scale. Facing what is expected to be a substantial increase in traffic fatalities for the 2021 calendar year, the Department of Transportation (DOT) released a 42-page plan intended to help eliminate traffic fatalities by reducing speed, redesigning roadways, and improving car-safety features such as automatic emergency braking, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

Secretary Buttigieg told the Associated Press (AP) in an interview that new federal data will be released next week indicating what he expects to be another increase in traffic fatalities through the third quarter of last year. 2021’s first-half of the year death toll from motor vehicle accidents was estimated at 20,160 – the highest six month figure since 2006.

It doesn’t look good, and I continue to be extremely concerned about the trend,” Buttigieg said to the AP Thursday.

RollCall.com reported that the ambitious plan was described as a “paradigm shift” by one DOT official. The strategy comes following what RollCall.com referred to as a “sobering statistic” related to increased traffic fatalities despite few cars on the road during the pandemic.

Although far less drivers took to the roads in 2020, traffic fatalities spiked considerably, with some 38,680 people dying in motor vehicle crashes that year, according to data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The 2020 figure represents the highest number since 2007 and a 7.2% increase over the 2019 level of 36,096 fatalities.

Somehow it has become over the years and decades as normal, sort of the cost of doing business,” Buttigieg said. “Even through a pandemic that led to considerably less driving, we continue to see more danger on our roads.”

Buttigieg indicated that over the next two years his department will provide guidance and $5 billion in grants to states in an effort to reduce speed limits and embrace safer road designs. Such improved safety design initiatives will include dedicated bike and bus lanes, better lighting, and crosswalks, according to a report from KTLA.

Today we commit that our goal is this: zero. Our goal is zero [traffic] deaths,” Buttigieg said Thursday in announcing the national road safety strategy.

The decision to commit to that goal in a serious way at a national level changes the way cities and towns design roads, changes the way companies build cars, changes the way people drive.

Buttigieg’s plan to reduce traffic-related deaths to zero is aligned with the Vision Zero programs in various major cities throughout the nation, including here in Los Angles. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the city’s Vision Zero program in 2015. But like overall the national average, Los Angeles saw an uptick in car accident injuries and fatalities during 2021.

The Scope of the National Traffic Fatality Problem

According to Vision Zero, more than 40,000 people are killed annually on American streets, with thousands more injured every year.

For too long, we’ve considered traffic deaths and severe injuries to be inevitable side effects of modern life. While often referred to as ‘accidents,’ the reality is that we can prevent these tragedies by taking a proactive, preventative approach that prioritizes traffic safety as a public health issue,” the Vision Zero website states.

The Vision Zero strategy aims to create a shift from the traditional approach to traffic fatalities. According to the program’s website, the current or “traditional” approach to roadway safety is fraught with multiple limitations:

  • A view that traffic deaths are inevitable
  • A need for perfect human behavior
  • An emphasis on preventing collisions
  • An emphasis on individual responsibility
  • A view that saving lives is expensive

In contrast, Vision Zero’s strategy aims to create the aforementioned paradigm shift through:

  • A view that traffic deaths are preventable
  • Integrating the possibility for human failing in the overall approach
  • A focus on preventing fatal and severe car crashes
  • An emphasis on a “systems approach”
  • A view that saving lives is actually not expensive

Vision Zero claims to provide a “departure from the status quo” through its proposed strategy by emphasizing two major changes to national roadway safety:

  1. Recognizing that people will sometimes make mistakes, so the road system and related policies should be designed to ensure those inevitable mistakes do not result in severe injuries or fatalities. This means that system designers and policymakers are expected to improve the roadway environment, policies (such as speed management), and other related systems to lessen the severity of crashes.
  2. Enacting a multidisciplinary approach, bringing together diverse and necessary stakeholders to address this complex problem. In the past, meaningful, cross-disciplinary collaboration among local traffic planners and engineers, policymakers, and public health professionals has not been the norm. Vision Zero acknowledges that many factors contribute to safe mobility — including roadway design, speeds, behaviors, technology, and policies – and sets clear goals to achieve the shared goal of zero fatalities and severe injuries.

Filing a Civil Claim for Damages After a Car Accident

A car accident injury victim who has been harmed due to another driver’s negligence or carelessness may be eligible to recover a cash settlement for various types of damages. In a personal injury civil lawsuit, the injured victim may pursue financial compensation for losses suffered in a car accident, including:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Medical bills
  • Hospital bills
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Emotional trauma

Ready to file a claim and pursue justice through a financial damages award? Our expert attorneys are available online or by phone now.

The statute of limitations on most California personal injury claims is two years from the date of the incident. Victims are strongly encouraged to file claims as soon as possible after sustaining a car accident injury in an effort to protect their right to maximum financial compensation.

Free Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer Consultation

Contact Dordulian Law Group’s (DLG) Car Accident Division lawyers today for a free and confidential consultation. We’ll review the facts of your case, provide you with an overview of your legal options based on our more than 25 years of experience, and determine an overall estimate for how much your personal injury claim may be worth.

DLG’s trusted car accident lawyers have helped injured victims recover more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts. Contact us today at 818-322-4056 to take the first step towards securing the justice you deserve for your car accident injury claim.


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