Tag Archives: Toward Zero Crash Deaths

Does DOT Want to Reach Toward Zero Deaths? Or not?

In the process of writing a post on Mary’s would-have-been 18th birthday, I discovered a link to a DOT webpage on Toward Zero Deaths.

Here’s that post: Mary would have turned 18 today; but underride protection isn’t “cost-effective.”

And here is the link: Federal Highway Administration: Toward Zero Deaths .

The Department of Transportation is saying that the,

FHWA is committed to the vision of eliminating fatalities and serious injuries on our Nation’s roadways. This approach echoes the Department of Transportation’s Strategic Plan, which articulates the goal of “working toward no fatalities across all modes of travel“; the FHWA’s strategic goal of ensuring the “nation’s highway system provides safe, reliable, effective, and sustainable mobility for all users”; and the emphasis on safety that FHWA renews every year in our strategic implementation efforts.

The zero deaths vision is a way of clearly and succinctly describing how an organization, or an individual, is going to approach safety – even one death on our transportation system is unacceptable. This idea was first adopted in Sweden in 1997 as “Vision Zero” and since then has evolved across the country and across the world. A growing number of states and cities have adopted zero deaths visions under different brandings.

The zero deaths approach uses a data-driven, interdisciplinary approach that FHWA has been promoting for many years. The approach targets areas for improvement and employs proven countermeasures, integrating application of education, enforcement, engineering, and emergency medical and trauma services (the “4Es”). A combination of strategies from different focus areas will be necessary to achieve the zero deaths vision.

If that is truly the Department’s vision, then their lack of appropriate action to issue underride rulemaking falls far short of that mission. And why is that? Could it be that safety is no longer truly their priority? Are they unable to be an uncompromised voice for the victims of vehicle violence — whether there be 400 or 4,000 underride deaths/year?

Who then will advocate for safer roads?

Congress should act responsibly and pass the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act. President Trump should sign an Executive Order to authorize Vision Zero Rulemaking and the Office of Management & Budget should revise their guidelines to allow agencies to conduct regulatory analysis which properly values the preservation of human health & life.

Otherwise, the Department of Transportation’s public commitment to a vision of Toward Zero Deaths is a farce. May it not be so.


Remembering Mary when she would have been 18.

Mary Lydia Karth, August 6, 1999 – May 8, 2013

Oh, and before you go, read this previous post: If Sec. Foxx & DOT are embracing Vision Zero, why do we have to fight to get a strong Underride Rule?

Move Us Toward Zero Crash Deaths: Create Office of National Traffic Safety Ombudsman (Advocate)

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.

Small businesses have a National Ombudsman. Why not do the same for the victims of tragic, preventable traffic crashes?

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:

  1. The Traffic Safety Ombuds would develop, refine, and monitor the pursuit of a National Vision Zero Goal.
  2. The Traffic Safety Ombuds would oversee the White House Vision Zero Task Force.
  3. 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.

Traffic Safety Ombudsman

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!