Repairing Infrastructure Can Reduce Trucking Accidents
Earlier this year, the executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, C. Y. David Lang, wrote an article for Trucks.com unveiling research performed by his foundation that suggested a few ways to improve road conditions in the United States that were designed to decrease traffic accidents. Lang argues that, while human error is a cause, the conditions of infrastructure in the United States are a significant factor in our poor road safety ranking internationally. The top ten nations for road safety each average fewer than four and a half traffic fatalities per 100,000 of the population per year. By comparison, the United States ranks 32nd with nearly eleven deaths per 100,000 population. We, as a nation, had been seeing progress on this matter, with a steady downward trend that began in the 1970s but has seen a sudden reversal in only the last two years.
The research released by the Foundation claims a potential to reduce fatalities and crashes by 415,000 over a 20-year period. Lang highlights six of the report’s twelve solutions that account for a full 95 percent of the anticipated crash reduction, at an estimated total cost of $146 billion.
- Increasing Roundabouts: 30 percent of the anticipated crash reduction would come in the form of turning regular intersections into roundabouts. As cited in the research, the Highway Safety Manual (AASHTO, 2010) claims that converting a stop-controlled intersection into a roundabout reduces accident injuries by 82 percent, partly because roundabouts largely eliminate right-angle collisions.
- Roadside Improvements: Simple fixes such as adding barriers and clearing roadside debris could reduce nearly 20 percent of injuries and fatal accidents.
- Pedestrian Crossings: The report studied areas with high pedestrian and bicycle traffic and found that adding crosswalks and sidewalks where they don’t exist or upgrading existing, but poor, crosswalks, has the potential to reduce 20 percent of crashes and would help protect road users who are already most vulnerable to injury from accidents.
- Median Barriers: By reducing head-on collisions and wrong-way traffic, adding median barriers can help reduce crashes by 14 percent. The report also notes that converting an undivided highway into a divided one also creates room to introduce left turning lanes, another improvement recommended by the research.
- Rumble Strips: By alerting drivers that they are leaving a safe lane of travel, rumble strips on either the sides or middle of roads add up to a 9 percent reduction in crashes.
- Shoulder Widening: Shoulders on the road serve a number of purposes, such as providing a safe place for vehicles to leave traffic in case of an emergency, access for first responders, and safe passage for bicycles. Widening these shoulders would reduce accidents by 3 percent.
We encourage the state of Alabama to consider these suggestions and their impact on truck-related accidents, and continue to be ready and available to help victims of these accidents receive the attention and support they deserve.