Despite the 33,000 people who die annually on the roads each year, our country does not currently have a reliable means of addressing the problem. These people cannot cry out in protest. And there is no one who has been granted the responsibility and authority to speak on their behalf.
I think I have a way to change that unfortunate oversight.
Let’s appoint an ombudsman to stand in the place of vulnerable road users (each one of us). Let’s create a National Office of Traffic Safety Ombudsman or Advocate or Ombuds to advance a National Vision Zero Goal–acting to oversee the process of moving us toward zero crash deaths and serious injuries.
An ombudsman or public advocate is usually appointed by the government or by parliament, but with a significant degree of independence, who is charged with representing the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints of maladministration or a violation of rights. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ombudsman
In fact, in October 2015, Congress created just such an office for small businesses:
WASHINGTON – Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, announced today that Earl L. Gay will serve as SBA’s National Ombudsman and Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Enforcement Fairness.
In Gay’s new role he will oversee an office created by Congress that is responsible for the reporting and review of Federal regulatory actions that impact small business. He will also serve as a liaison between Federal agencies and those small businesses facing regulatory and compliance issues. Additionally, he will lead regional roundtables and public hearings and manage a national network of 10 regional regulatory fairness boards charged with advising SBA on Federal regulations unduly burdening small businesses.
What are we waiting for?! This would be the perfect complement to our Vision Zero Petition requests for a National Vision Zero Goal, a White House Vision Zero Task Force, and a Vision Zero Executive Order. In fact, the Traffic Safety Ombuds(man) (Advocate) would fit in extremely well with this plan and, now that I think about it, is actually probably the missing piece of the puzzle for making Vision Zero a viable goal:
- The Traffic Safety Ombuds would develop, refine, and monitor the pursuit of a National Vision Zero Goal.
- The Traffic Safety Ombuds would oversee the White House Vision Zero Task Force.
- The Traffic Safety Ombuds would be the watchdog to make sure that the Vision Zero Executive Order and Vision Zero rulemaking were carried out appropriately on behalf of travelers on the road.
Makes sense to me. Because, really, who would be given the responsibility and authority to oversee these things otherwise?! This could be the turning point in our drive to see a Vision Zero policy adopted. (Hallelujah Chorus).
Now all we have to do is get the ear of President Obama and persuade him to appoint this very important person.
I don’t particularly care what the position/Office ends up being called (Ombudsman, Advocate, Ombuds). Just create it, Congress or President Obama or whoever has the authority to do so!