32MOVE | Fall 2008
the suggestions MoVing foRwaRd
Motor vehicle and law enforcement administrators un- derstand exactly how many efforts are made every single day to reduce traffic crash fatalities and injuries, and the costs surrounding them. The AAA report recognizes that there are many quality campaigns and movements to fight the good fight and reduce these numbers. But as the report illustrates, and it is probably a thought that crosses through the minds of members every day— “among the most significant challenges going forward will be how to change our culture of complacency as it relates to traffic safety.”
As disheartening as it may seem, ours is a culture of complacency. The good news is there are people work- ing hard to make changes, and citizens willing to listen to what needs to be done. AAA made some recommen- dations that include finding more leadership and com- mitment at the Federal, state and local levels.
“Nearly 43,000 people die on the nation’s roadways each year,” reported AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet, announcing the results earlier this year. “Yet,
the annual tally of motor-vehicle related fatalities barely registers a blip in most people’s minds. It’s time for mo- tor vehicle crashes to be viewed as the public health threat they are. If there were two jumbo jets crashing ev- ery week, the government would ground all planes until we fixed the problem. Yet, we’ve come to accept this sort of death toll with car crashes.”
The government cannot be asked to immobilize all automobiles in the quest to reduce crashes, but groups like AAA, AAMVA and the many others who want to make a difference, can help raise even more awareness of the significant amount of lives and dollars lost to car crashes each year.
The report recommends that leadership get on board and establish national safety goals and strategies to cut surface transportation fatalities. If leadership can attack the highway safety issues with the same fervor used to address major issues on the ballot, citizens might start to see less congestion on the road and more dollars in their wallet.
The Crashes vs. Congestion recommendations also reiterate the importance of more research and evalua- tion (especially in determining which roads and bridges