By Mark Rosekind
Every year for the past nine years, the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety have provided us with an invaluable tool with its Roadmap to State Highway Safety Laws. This annual report card grades all 50 states and the District of Columbia on their performance in adopting 15 basic traffic safety laws. It identifies key goals and gauges progress on these laws that have been proven effective in reducing roadway fatalities and injuries.
On January 11th, I had the pleasure of speaking in support of this year’s report when it was released at a Washington, DC press conference. The NTSB commends the Advocates for providing policy leaders and the public with the critical information needed to effect meaningful changes that directly result in saving lives and protecting vehicle occupants. It is all about setting goals, providing tools, and most importantly, taking action.
Strong laws are fundamental to transportation safety. While we may debate the role of government and its responsibilities to the nation’s citizens, one thing is certain. The safety of the traveling public is an elementary function of government at all levels and this is particularly crucial in the state legislatures.
Motor vehicle crashes are responsible for more deaths than accidents in all other forms of transportation — combined. The numbers are staggering. In 2010, there were 5.4 million crashes; 32,885 people lost their lives and more than 2.2 million people were injured. Aside from the tragic cost to human life and personal injury, this came with a $230 billion pricetag to the nation. Advocates, the NTSB, and many others believe that America can, and must, do better.
As we begin the new year, we are grateful to the Advocates for highlighting the states that are raising the bar on highway safety because they provide best practices and examples of what can be achieved. We should also thank the Advocates for taking on the difficult task of bringing attention to those states that lag behind. With inaction, precious lives are at stake on our highways. With the Roadmap in mind, let’s all resolve to make 2012 the year that we take the action, use the tools, and achieve the goals necessary to reach our destinations safely.
Mark R. Rosekind, Ph.D. was sworn in as a Member of the National Transportation Safety Board on June 30, 2010. He is a frequent contributor to the NTSB blog.