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There are No Short-Term Initiatives … that Work!

Changing Driver Behavior
Jun 13/2016 Published by:

Recently, the NHTSA released data showing 1st quarter 2012 traffic fatalities are up 13.5 percent compared with the same time last year. This just serves as a reminder to me that the efforts to make our roads safer and improve driver behavior is far from done. It is a constant process, not a short-term initiative. Government-driven campaigns against distracted driving or fatigue behind the wheel are all well and good, but are usually temporary campaigns with hard-to-measure impact. Lasting results in driving down traffic accidents and the associated carnage will only come from the continued commitment to the issue by fleet operators and individuals, not by government officials.

Traffic Deaths Surge in First Quarter of 2012

Traffic deaths in the first quarter of this year surged 13.5 percent compared with the same time last year — a sharp increase but still indicative of an overall annual decline in fatal crashes, according to data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

An estimated 7,630 people died from January through March 2012, up from 6,720 during the same time in 2011. It was the second-largest quarterly increase in traffic deaths since 1975; the largest was in 1979.

Still, the results from one quarter aren’t enough to drop everything in shock; since the agency began tracking data in 1975, the graphs display a regular seesaw effect. NHTSA said the warmer winter may have caused more people to drive than during a normal winter season — as a nation, we drove 9.7 billion miles during the first quarter, up 1.4 percent — but that not enough data exist to make a serious projection for the rest of 2012.

Annual deaths have been down significantly since a peak in 2005, when the agency recorded more than 43,000. In the first quarter of 2006, deaths reached a high of 9,558. In 2011, road traffic declined to its lowest level since 2003, and traffic deaths also reached a low of 32,310, the lowest on national record since 1949. Two particular types of accidents, including veering off the road and crossing over an opposing lane, make up about 55 percent of all fatal crashes.

And if it seems like you’re just reading a bunch of numbers on a screen, consider this: More people died on U.S. roads in three months than all the U.S. soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan over a decade. That’s not what we’d call relief.


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