The head of the National Transportation Safety Board says that focusing only on individual driver behavior or actions may not be sufficient to helping reduce the number of people killed in traffic accidents in Georgia and across the United States every year. She instead is calling for an approach that takes into account all of the different factors that contribute to the various driver behaviors resulting in accidents.
The National Transportation Safety Board is primarily an investigative authority which conducts investigations into air, road, land, and water accidents that involve mass fatalities or casualties. The Board advises or provides recommendations based on those investigations, and is not a regulatory authority. It cannot pass regulations based on its own recommendations. However, the Board’s recommendations are taken very seriously by state administrations, especially those that are looking at making their roads safer.
Jennifer Homendy, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board, was speaking in remarks to a conference of the Governors Highway Safety Association, and says that an overall approach to increasing traffic safety must take into consideration the fact that so many states have enforced higher speed limits than recommended. Speeding, for instance, continues to be a major killer on American roads, and we must evaluate whether the systems in place to date actually encourages drivers to speed. She points to states that have prohibited local authorities from setting their own lower speed limits for motorists. She also points to the responsibility of manufacturers who frequently design automobiles that are made to travel at more than 100 mph, or sell cars that have no installed speed limiters to prevent excessive speeds. Road design that encourages speeding could be just as much to blame as individuals who take advantage of these roads that are built for excessive speeds.
An overall approach to traffic safety needs to take into consideration all the different factors that affect rash driving behaviors and drive up injury and accident numbers. A safer approach would include a redesign of our transportation network that makes safer options like mass transit easier and more convenient compared to personal options like cars. Speed limits that penalize excessive speeds can help reduce the risk of crashes involving high speeds, and it has been highly discouraging to see so many states going in the opposite direction of logic by allowing higher speeds on their highways.
An approach that penalizes individual drivers for their violations of traffic rules, combined with better roads that discourage speeding and laws that frown on rash driving behaviors, would be much more effective in helping reduce the number of people killed in traffic accidents every year.
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