Hoping to reverse the spike in highway fatalities that has occurred over the past 18 months, the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have joined forces with the National Safety Council to launch the Road to Zero Coalition with the specific goal of ending auto-related fatalities on the nation's roads within the next 30 years. The group noted that last year, traffic deaths here rose by 7.2 percent -- their highest spike since 1996 -- and preliminary estimates for the first half of 2016 indicate a 10.4-percent bump compared to the same period in 2015.

"Our vision is simple – zero fatalities on our roads," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "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."

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To help meet the lofty objectives, the DOT has committed $1 million a year for the next three years to organizations working on a broad range of potential lifesaving programs. The initial focus involves more effectively promoting proven strategies, including things like expanding seat belt use, installing rumble strips, enhancing truck safety, promoting various behavior-change campaigns and adopting more data-driven enforcement. On a long-term basis, the coalition plans to develop approaches that seek to eliminate traffic deaths through a systematic approach to eliminating risks.

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Parties in the Road to Zero Coalition are convinced that the rapid introduction of automated vehicles and advanced technologies will play a significant role in helping it achieve the overall goal during the next three decades as well as have a major impact on reducing serious traffic-related injuries. The coalition is also committed to fostering overall improvements in the entire transportation system, addressing elements like infrastructure design, vehicle technology, enforcement practices and behavioral safety.

"Reaching zero deaths will be difficult, will take time and will require significant effort from all of us,” said FHWA Deputy Administrator David Kim. “But it is the only acceptable vision." 


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