Just yesterday, we posted excerpts and our comments regarding the Road Safety Annual Report 2019, and America’s poor performance by comparison with the vast majority of other developed nations.
It has long been known that one of the key features in highway safety is the overall attitude of the people in the region or country concerned — the ‘road safety culture’.
This is a massively pervasive issue. It affects and is affected by lawmakers, automakers, federal and state government departments, highway engineers, law enforcement departments, the judiciary, driver training & testing, drivers themselves, and vulnerable road users: the motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians… everybody, in fact.
Road safety culture significantly affects the frequency or rareness of the many dangerous behaviours which result in crash deaths, such as drunk driving, speeding, and the presence or lack of care towards other people.
Indeed, a few months ago, following a three-week road trip in what is currently the leading road-safety country in the world, I posted ‘Road Safety Lessons from Norway – Introduction‘, pondering how this Scandinavian nation was achieving such excellent results.
In that article, I wrote that it was my educated but not research-based belief that despite many challenges, such as a vast proportion of rural roads, Norway is so safe in large part because of its people’s good overall attitude — their road safety culture.
Similarly, I would suggest that America’s potentially biggest problem with road safety is exactly the same thing, but this time, regrettably, it is the people’s poor overall attitude.
Am I blaming the entire population of America? No, far from it. But I am blaming the selfishness, greed and short-sightedness which arguably originated from the automakers who wanted absolute priority in society for their vehicles, and I believe that this ‘cars first’ attitude has spread like a cancer, to the point where the American people have been paying for decades with 35-40,000 lives and hundreds of thousands of debilitating injuries, every year… stunningly unacceptable figures.
One of the biggest targets in improving traffic safety in the USA has to be the improvement of attitudes — a major task. ‘Vision Zero’, that is currently a major focus, is indeed a wonderful and proven approach, but if carried out in isolation, I would suggest that it will be nowhere near as successful as we all wish it to be.