The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Board of Directors recently called for an aggressive highway safety program aimed at achieving a goal of reducing highway fatalities by half over the next two decades.
The new goal replaces an earlier target of reducing highway deaths to 1.0 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles of travel by the end of calendar year 2008. In actuality, motor vehicle fatalities increased from 42,836 in 2004 to 43,443 in 2005, and the fatality rate rose from 1.44 to 1.45, representing the first rise in the highway fatality rate since 1986.
The AASHTO Standing Committee on Highway Traffic Safety, which drafted the resolution approved by the board, maintains that stating the goal in terms of the "actual number of lives saved" will resonate with the public significantly better than the abstract notion of a rate measure. Achievement of the new goal would also result in a higher number of lives saved. Attainment of the new goal will require "new motor vehicle safety technologies, more aggressive state safety laws and enforcement, and improved highway infrastructure," the resolution states. But its attainment will result in a cumulative total of over 50,000 lives saved over the next decade, moving toward halving fatalities over the next 20 years.
AASHTO is urging that other safety organizations also adopt the goal, and that the administration, Congress and states consider the goal as a guide as they work towards reauthorization of the highway and transit programs, which expire in September 2009.