Three DOT agencies and the National Safety Council have teamed up to launch a new initiative with the goal of eliminating traffic deaths on U.S. roads within the next 30 years. Truck safety is one of the targets, and autonomous vehicle technologies envisioned as part of the solution.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Federal Highway Safety Administration and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are joining with the National Safety Council to launch the Road to Zero Coalition. The Department of Transportation has committed $1 million a year for the next three years to provide grants to organizations working on lifesaving programs.
"Last year, our nation lost over 35,000 lives in fatal traffic crashes, which is a significant increase over the year before," noted Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
"Never before has a coalition of this size and experience been assembled with such an ambitious goal," Foxx said. "Our vision is simple – zero fatalities on our roads. We know that setting the bar for safety to the highest possible standard requires commitment from everyone to think differently about safety – from drivers to industry, safety organizations and government at all levels."
The Road to Zero Coalition will initially focus on promoting "proven lifesaving strategies" including truck safety, seat belt use, installing rumble strips, street design, behavior change campaigns and data-driven enforcement. The coalition will then lead the development of a new scenario-based vision on how to achieve zero traffic deaths based on evidence-based strategies and a systematic approach to eliminating risks.
The coalition is betting on the rapid advancement of autonomous vehicle technologies as a way forward to its goal of zero traffic deaths and will work to accelerate its adoption into infrastructure design, vehicle technology, enforcement and driver behavior. The groups believe that by countering inevitable human mistakes, it can seriously reduce and potentially eliminate fatalities on the road.
"With the rapid introduction of automated vehicle technologies that may prove to be a road safety game changer, our goal of zero deaths is achievable in our lifetimes," Foxx said.
"Reaching zero deaths will be difficult, will take time and will require significant effort from all of us but it is the only acceptable vision," said David Kim, FHWA deputy administrator. "We're not at zero yet, but by working together, the day will come when there are no fatalities on the nation's roadways, sidewalks or bicycle paths."