US highway safety leaders focus on speed management to reach zero
Speed management, Vision Zero, and a focus on preventing pedestrian and cyclist fatalities were common themes throughout the 50th annual meetings of the Governors Highway Safety Association and National Association of Women Highway Safety Leaders.
At the annual Governors State Highway Safety Association meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, US state representatives exchanged best practices to lower the rising US traffic fatality trend. At the centre of many discussions was speed management, a prominent topic in global road safety and the foundation of Vision Zero, which has saved lives around the world and is gaining popularity in the US. Opening the conference, US Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said, “Speeding was a key factor in 10,000 US fatalities.”
At the National Association of Women Highway Safety Leaders meeting preceding GHSA, Dr. Bella Dinh-Zarr, Board Member of the National Transportation Safety Board said in her keynote speech, “Road traffic injuries are the leading killer of children over age five in the US, and speed related crashes killed 112,580 people between 2005-2014.”
With speed management and a focus on vulnerable users at its core, Vision Zero has gained traction in the United States. Nearly one year ago, the US began the Road to Zero Coalition, chaired by the National Safety Council with advisory members NHTSA, FHWA, and FMCSA, and over 350 other members. Debbie Hersman, President and CEO of the National Safety Council, said “The aim of Road to Zero is to get to zero deaths in the next 30 years.”
US organizations such as the National Center for Safe Routes to School have sought political buy-in to reaching zero by starting with youth. “Around the world, we’ve seen impressive success in protecting children through speed management. This is why our partner National Center for Safe Routes to School has launched Vision Zero for Youth, and why we’ve launched the speed vaccine campaign. Starting with our most vulnerable population, our children, can help us gain the political buy-in we need to strive for zero deaths. This is about more than just road safety, it’s about achieving social justice and educational opportunities. To benefit the wider community, we must target under-served areas where children need it most,” said Natalie Draisin, Director of the North American Office and UN Representative at the FIA Foundation, and Board Member of the National Association of Women Highway Safety Leaders. David Sleet, former Associate Director for Science for the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention at the CDC Injury Center, said “Speed management is one of the most important tools we have to control this ‘epidemic on wheels’ controlling speeds on roadways can have important public health benefits.”
Recognizing the need to focus on children to improve equality and access to education, health, and prosperity, the members of the National Association of Women Highway Safety Leaders pledged their support for safe and healthy journeys to school for all children, the goal of the Global Initiative for Child Health and Mobility. Dr. Bella Dinh-Zarr said, “Since its inception 50 years ago, The National Association of Women Highway Safety Leaders has played a unique and influential role in US highway safety. These women leaders have exemplified tireless dedication to improving communities through road safety.”