There are conflicting views of how well the U.S. is doing in making auto travel safer. Viewed individually, every traffic death is a tragedy, and often a preventable one. Despite the preventable nature of the large majority of highway accidents, the 32,719 traffic deaths recorded in 2013 is considered by some to be a success story. There is an odd tension between touting the improvement seen in recent years and an acknowledgement that we could be doing much better.
Some safety leaders have been pushing the idea that zero traffic deaths is the proper goal when pursuing auto safety initiatives. Vision Zero is the term that has been used to describe several state and municipal campaigns to improve auto safety. Regardless of whether the current number of deaths represents an improvement, the idea of a world where no one dies because of a motor vehicle crash is a good one. Every family that was forced to go through the tragedy of losing a loved one this year in a highway accident deserved better. We can all do more to make the roads safer and strive toward making Vision Zero a reality.
The number of traffic deaths has been largely impacted by improvements in auto safety. Serious crashes are still a common occurrence. More than 2.3 million people are injured per year in car and truck accidents. Auto safety advocates need to focus on preventing auto injuries as well as auto deaths. The only way to do that is to prevent accidents.
Source: Streetsblog USA, "NHTSA Touts Decrease in Traffic Deaths, But 32,719 Ain't No Vision Zero," by Tanya Snyder, 22 December 2014