According to a new report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, key roadway improvements to the USA’s transport network have the potential to save 63,700 lives and prevent 353,560 serious injuries over a 20-year period.
With the USA ranked nearly last among high-income nations in annual traffic fatalities and road casualties continuing to rise, North America’s largest motoring organization, the AAA, urges the Trump Administration to make repairing and maintaining the country’s roadways a top priority. The Foundation for Traffic Safety is the AAA’s not-for-profit, publicly funded, research and educational organization, with the mission of preventing traffic deaths and injuries by conducting investigations into their causes. For the AAA Foundation’s latest study, the potential safety benefits and costs were derived by projecting benefits and costs of highway infrastructure improvements estimated in previous studies onto all roads of the same types nationwide.
With an investment of US$146bn, the report recommends six cost-effective roadway improvements with the greatest potential to reduce both the likelihood and consequences of crashes, which account for 95% of anticipated crash reduction:
Convert key intersections into roundabouts (nearly 30%);
Install roadside barriers and clear roadside objects (nearly 20%);
Add sidewalks and signalized pedestrian crossings on majority of roads (nearly 20%);
Install median barriers on divided highways (14%);
Install shoulder and centerline rumble strips (nearly 9%); and
Pave and widen shoulders (nearly 3%).
Current investments in highway infrastructure improvements in the USA are substantially lower than what is necessary to fix the country’s aging roads and bridges. While the US$146bn investment outlined in the report will have a significant national-level impact, the AAA says increased investment is required at all levels of government to prevent an infrastructure crisis. AAA recommends state and local governments take action to:
Prioritize safer highway design, improve road conditions, and eliminate roadside hazards;
Align highway and street improvements with priority needs;
Fund an effective, ongoing clean-up of roadway debris.
“We can save tens of thousands of lives and make our roadways safer by investing in improvements that we already know exist,” said Dr David Yang, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s executive director. “Now is the time to act by targeting limited resources where they will have the greatest impact.”
AAA president and CEO Marshall L Doney added, “We must invest in infrastructure improvements that not only account for today’s needs, but also prioritize needs for the future, including the potentially lifesaving technology of autonomous vehicles.”