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Toward Zero Deaths FHWA Program

More than 35,000 fatalities occur on our nation’s freeways every year.  These are largely preventable through the methods utilized in designing and constructing those roads, the way driving laws are developed and enforced, what the public knows about safety, how we respond to emergencies, and how we communicate with one another about traffic safety.  An initiative is already underway to implement this strategy across our country’s thoroughfares— FHWA’s Toward Zero Deaths Program.  

This national program is an effort to identify opportunities to improve the safety on America’s highways and byways.  It is focused on bringing to light the key players and entities in the construction, use, and maintenance of our roads in order to decrease the number of fatalities on these roadways to zero.  Toward Zero Deaths has already begun with a two-tiered approach through cultural change and the organization of a safety foundation.  Much research has been compiled on elements such as vulnerable motorists (i.e., pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists and elderly drivers), infrastructure, enforcement and other aspects of our roadways.  Use of appropriate traffic safety products in the construction and rehabilitation of new and existing roadways is one of the techniques used to make our roads safer.      

A draft outline has been developed for the program, in addition to other updates provided as of May 19, 2011.  Based on the outline, two projects, both sponsored by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, will focus on the national strategy for reducing deaths.  Additionally, the outline calls for an aggressive marketing effort to bring public awareness to the initiative as a whole.  Next steps for the project include analyzing the huge amounts of data that have been gathered, collecting more stakeholder input, and generating a cost-benefit analysis for the strategy.  Indirect federal highway funding will come in the form of help from agencies such as the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
As far as the stakeholders for the FHWA program are concerned, one death on our nation’s freeways is one death too many.  Thousands of people are being killed every year on roads that we trust to transport us safely.  The FHWA program is an initiative led by very influential entities that have much vested in the safety of our roads.  The overall goal is to make deaths on freeways a thing of the past.