Toward Zero Deaths

Sept. 3, 2019

National Strategy Aims to Eliminate Roadway Deaths

More than 410,000 people have been killed on U.S. roadways over the past decade, with almost 40,000 roadway deaths occurring in 2017 alone. These numbers account not only for fatalities of drivers, but also roadway workers, bystanders, pedestrians, and law enforcement officials. 

In order to decrease the number of roadway deaths, participants in a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) workshop created Toward Zero Deaths (TZD), a national strategy that aims to eliminate injuries and deaths on the nation’s roadways. TZD was conceptualized in 2009 and has since garnered support from organizations and stakeholders across the country. 

According to Roger Wentz, president and CEO of the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), “many of our everyday activities, such as training workers in the areas of flagging and temporary traffic control, are targeted toward making our roads safer for both workers and road users.” 

ATSSA was the first membership association to support the national TZD initiative and has published nearly 20 case study booklets with real-life examples of successful practices to save lives and reduce serious injuries. ATSSA’s focus is roadway safety – not only for motorists, but also for pedestrians, cyclists, and users of other emerging transportation options like Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs).

“We are at a critical point in the evolution of the transportation industry as we consider our crumbling infrastructure and prepare for autonomous vehicles,” said David Krahulec, president of Horizon Signal Technology, Inc. and president of the American Traffic Safety Services (ATSS) Foundation. “ATSSA’s involvement in these two important issues ensures that improving safety and the goal of zero roadway deaths will be attainable.”

Promoting Advocacy and Innovation

ATSSA provides training for roadway standardization, hosts programs to foster industry innovation, and advocates for roadway safety infrastructure on the state and federal levels. The Association also helps facilitate the conversation between automotive manufacturers and the roadway safety infrastructure industry to ease the transition to automated vehicles. 

“I think that many people expect roadway deaths to decrease as a result of technology deployed in CAVs,” Wentz said. “However, it will be another 30 to 40 years before we have a fully automated vehicle fleet. We don’t yet know what safety issues will arise during this prolonged period of the ‘mixed vehicle fleet.’” 

Almost a decade ago, ATSSA created an Innovation Council as a focal point for issues related to emerging CAVs. A key area of emphasis of this group has been advancing Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) applications in work zones. The Association also works with the Automotive Safety Council (ASC) to exchange information on emerging CAV devices and practices. 

“We’re at the forefront and we are in a good position right now,” said Debra Ricker, president of Worksafe Traffic Control Industries and ATSS Foundation board member. “With ATSSA’s help we have gotten in on the ground floor and are sitting at the table with all the partners and stakeholders and will have opportunity for much input and ability to share our industries’ technologies.”

Raising Awareness Through Charitable Giving

The ATSS Foundation promotes roadway safety through charitable giving and public awareness programs. One such program is the National Work Zone Memorial, which lists the names of people who have lost their lives in work zones. The memorial travels throughout the U.S. to help raise awareness of work zone safety.

Additionally, The Foundation has three key scholarship programs to support those impacted by roadway injuries and fatalities. The Roadway Worker Memorial Scholarship Program provides financial assistance to dependents (children and spouses) of roadway workers killed or permanently disabled in roadway work zones. Experience Camps Travel Scholarships cover transportation costs to and from grief camps for younger children who have lost a parent or guardian to a work zone incident. The newest program, the Marty Weed Engineering Scholarship, provides financial assistance to attend ATSSA’s Annual Convention & Traffic Expo for new engineers who are employed by a public agency and who specialize in work zone safety and temporary traffic control.

“Our programs are designed to bring awareness to the importance of work zone safety while supporting those who have been affected by a work zone tragedy,” said Krahulec.

Driving Toward the Future of Roadway Safety

This year, ATSSA celebrates 50 years of advancing roadway safety.

“We have a ways to go toward this zero deaths goal,” said Kathleen Holst, CEO of RCMS and ATSS Foundation board member. “We're going to take everything that these 50 years have done for us in terms of what we've learned and how we’ve become successful and we're going to use that to propel us to new heights.”

Visit to learn more about the Association’s 50-year history of setting the standard in the roadway safety industry. Find out how you can support The ATSS Foundation’s core purpose of charitable giving and public awareness at

About The Author: ATSSA is an international association representing the road, traffic and highway safety industry.

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