Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

What can we learn from traffic safety in other countries?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collect data concerning motor vehicle crash injuries and fatalities on our highways.

Among the studies undertaken by the CDC is a comparison between vehicle crash deaths and current safety measures in the U.S. and those in other countries in response to the question, “How is the U.S. doing?”

A little background

In the 20th century, there was a major push to reduce fatalities resulting from motor vehicle accidents here in the U.S., and the efforts were very successful. However, the rate of vehicle crash deaths is still too high. For example, in 2013, there were over 32,000 traffic fatalities, more than double the average in comparable, high-income nations.

Reasons for more U.S. fatalities

Impaired driving; speeding; and lack of a seatbelt, car seat and booster seat use are the primary factors in U.S. traffic fatalities. Statistics show that about 90 people die in vehicle crashes every day in the U.S. This death rate is the highest of any comparison country, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Japan and the United Kingdom.

Safety measures in best-performing countries

The measures that other countries find successful in preventing vehicle crash fatalities include:

  •         Enforcement of seat belt laws covering everyone in the vehicle
  •         Enforcement of car seats and booster seats for children up to age eight
  •         Installation of ignition interlock devices for anyone convicted of drunk driving
  •         Improvements in vehicle safety features
  •         Wider use of publicized sobriety checkpoints
  •         Enforcing minimum drinking age

What we can do

The federal government evaluates safety programs and policies and partners with state, local and tribal authorities to provide resources and tools that aid in preventing motor vehicle injuries and deaths. We can all learn from the success other countries have had in this area. On a more personal level, drivers must be proactive in ensuring that everyone in the vehicle is properly buckled in. Drivers must also avoid the use of alcohol or drugs, obey posted speed limits and steer clear of distractions such as texting. A motor vehicle accident can alter a person’s life in mere seconds—or end it.

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