Will the Safe System Approach Reduce Traffic Accidents and Fatalities?

Will the Safe System Approach Reduce Traffic Accidents? Wouldn’t it be nice to travel on U.S. roads and not be traumatized by a serious accident scene or have to worry about being in a life-altering crash? The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Safe System Approach (SSA) and National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS) are intended to greatly decrease the risks on American roads and when using U.S. transportation systems. The recent Infrastructure Law has been a huge help in this endeavor.

According to the United States Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT),“The recent passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL or the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) is a generational investment in America’s transportation network, and supports the funding, program, and policy provisions described in the NRSS safety actions.”

The U.S. DOT states it “is committed to the ambitious long-term goal of reaching zero roadway fatalities and has adopted the Safe System Approach to help address the crisis on our roadways.”

What is the Safe System Approach?

The Safe System Approach is a multifaceted approach geared towards preventing vehicle crashes and reducing injury to those involved in vehicular accidents. As our transportation modes and systems change and evolve, a new way of mitigating the danger of car crashes must be developed to keep everyone safe on the road. The key to this new approach is that it builds upon and reinforces multiple components in a layered format to prevent deadly crashes and limit crash injuries.

The idea is that if one component breaks down, another layer is there to add protection. SSA is a comprehensive plan “encompassing all the roadway safety interventions required to achieve the goal of zero fatalities, including safety programs focused on infrastructure, human behavior, responsible oversight of the vehicle and transportation industry, and emergency response.”

Guiding principles of the SSA

In order to facilitate the desired end result of safer roads for drivers and pedestrians, the Safe System Approach is based on U.S. DOT’s six guiding principles. The principles include the following:

  1. Death and serious injuries are unacceptable.
    • The goal of the SSA is to eliminate fatal accidents and severe injuries.
  2. Humans make mistakes.
    • Mistakes happen and cause accidents. If the transportation system is designed with those possible mistakes in mind, accidents may be prevented.
  3. Humans are vulnerable.
    • Human bodies are vulnerable to injury. It is important when designing a system that designers plan for those weaknesses.
  4. Responsibility is shared.
    • All entities are integral regarding the planning and designing of a safe system. This includes the government, as well as, but not limited to, law enforcement, industries, advocacy organizations and the public. Everyone must do their part to create a safe system approach.
  5. Safety is proactive.
    • Waiting to see what kinds of crashes may occur is not productive; practical tools must be used to prevent crashes from happening in the first place.
  6. Redundancy is crucial.
    • All components of the transportation system must be strengthened. When each facet is strong, each part will compensate for the other. If one element doesn’t work, the other parts will still protect people.

U.S. DOT’s National Roadway Safety Strategy has a goal of zero roadway fatalities and zero serious injuries. The strategy emphasizes that this traffic fatality crisis is resolvable: “We face a crisis on our roadways; it is both unacceptable and solvable.”

U.S. DOT states that to support this new approach, “safety programs are focused on infrastructure, human behavior, responsible supervision of the vehicle and transportation industry, and emergency response.” Safety is the priority and a collaboration with stakeholders across the country will help to achieve this worthwhile goal.

Five objectives of the Safe System Approach Principles

The realization of the NRSS is organized around five corresponding objectives to the SSA principles. They include:

  1. Safer People/Road Users – Through education and outreach, road users can learn to be safer drivers, passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians.
  2. Safer Roads – Roads will be redesigned to limit dangerous accidents and encourage safer driving.
  3. Safer Vehicles – Vehicles may be equipped with innovative safety features to prevent human error and accidents while driving or riding.
  4. Safer Speeds – Reducing speeds will result in less fatalities and injuries; enforcing safe speeds is crucial as humans are more vulnerable to injury when driving and/or moving at high speeds.
  5. Post-Crash Care – Life saving and timely medical help at a crash scene is imperative. Improving crash care will help eliminate deaths and serious injuries, as well as provide pertinent and informative data about traffic patterns and issues that may cause tragic accidents on certain roadways.

The Safe System approach – an end to the crisis

Pete Buttigieg, the United States Secretary of Transportation wants to end this crisis and make roads safe. He appeals to all, including government entities, industries, and the general public by saying, “When it comes to roadway deaths, we have a crisis that’s urgent, unacceptable and preventable…We cannot and must not accept that these fatalities are somehow part of life in America.”

Car crashes are one of the leading causes of death all over the world, especially in the United States. Per U.S. DOT’s data, 42,945 people died in car crashes on U.S. roadways in 2021. For 2022, crash fatalities are estimated to be even higher. Since the 1970s, fatal car crashes decreased, due in part to new safety features like seat belts and air bags, but this positive trend reversed in 2020 and deaths on the road have increased. Now is the time to start implementing as many changes and strategies as we can, because the old way of doing things simply isn’t working.

Serious accidents are a crisis in Alabama and across the United States. If you or a loved one is involved in a serious accident, the lawyers at Martin & Helms can help you. We have been providing representation to the people of Huntsville and Decatur for decades. To set up a free consultation, call our offices or fill out our contact form today. We also serve clients and families throughout North Alabama.