In 2009 The Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) conducted a study on traffic accidents and fatalities. Their findings showed that over half of the deaths that occur on America’s roadways can be blamed on poor road conditions. That year nearly 34,000 people died in traffic accidents, a number which reveals just how important it is to improve our roads. The benefits are not only economic, but societal as well.
The PIRE study broke down the economic impact ($217 billion) of these traffic fatalities as well. “$20 billion in medical costs; $46 billion in productivity costs; $52 billion in property damage and other resource costs; and $99 billion in quality of life costs which measure the value of pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life by those injured or killed in crashes and their families.” In addition to shattered lives, these accidents destroy wealth as well.
So what can we do to improve these numbers? The good news is we’re already taking important steps in the right direction. Many roadway projects now require wider shoulders, improved guardrails, better lighting, rumble strips (to wake up sleeping drivers), and cleared space next to roadways to improve visibility and eliminate hazards like rocks and trees. Engineers are also looking at new technologies like heated roads, ice detection systems, and breakaway light poles to further reduce the risk of traffic fatalities.
Many times we get so caught up in the debate about transportation funding as it relates to economic and traffic mitigation that we forget how important it is that we have safe, modern roads for our loved ones to travel on. We’ve made incredible safety improvements to cars over the last 25 years. I think it’s time we brings our roads up to standard as well.
No go enjoy the day.