For those traveling on this busy 4th of July weekend, I encourage you not to protest too vigorously the congestion caused by construction zones. An eye-opening report released yesterday clearly indicates that better roadways are safer roadways.
Published by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation on behalf of the Transportation Construction Coalition, the report, titled “On a Crash Course: The Dangers and Health Costs of Deficient Roadways," is a wake-up call that we must get serious about funding road repairs.
The report concludes that more than half of U.S. highway fatalities are related to deficient roadway conditions. Now, this is not to suggest that we shouldn't also minimize drunk driving and maximize seat-belt use. But, it is astonishing to learn that deficient roadways contribute each year to 22,000 fatalities and $217 billion in damage.
“Concerns about swine flu pale in comparison to the number of crash victims I treat,” said Dr. Jared Goldberg, an emergency room physician in Alexandria, VA. “In medical terms, highway fatalities and injuries have reached epidemic proportions, and efforts to prevent further spread of this plague are essential. It's a lot simpler than developing a vaccine: fixing dangerous roads would help prevent traffic crashes.”
Remember that the report indicates only that faulty roadways contribute to crashes. However, the report's author, Dr. Ted Miller, warns against taking too much comfort in that:
“Safer drivers and safer cars remain vitally important, but safer roadways are critical to saving lives, preventing injuries and reducing costs. It is far more practical to make the roadway environment more forgiving and protective.”
I'll post tomorrow about reducing an all-too-common behavioral factor. But, for now, this report offers one more good reason to get our roads fixed up, and fixed up soon. That's what the Obama Administration has been doing with the $16.1 billion in highway stimulus funds we've obligated to over 4800 projects across the country. And that's what we will continue doing.
Safe driving, everyone--