The U.S. is missing significant opportunities to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries, a new report says.

The report, produced by the National Research Council, says the country could save lives by implementing a more rigorous, comprehensive program that adopts successful safety practices from other countries.

"There is a notable gap between traffic safety progress in the U.S. and other nations that deserves our attention," said Clinton Oster Jr., committee chair and professor, Indiana University, Bloomington. "The U.S. could learn from the effective strategies in place elsewhere to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities."

The study reviewed traffic safety practices and strategies in high-income countries around the world and compared them with those in place here.  While fatalities fell 19% in the U.S. from 1995 to 2009, they fell at a much faster in the other high-income countries studied. For example, fatalities dropped 52% in France, 38% in the United Kingdom and 25% in Australia.

Countries most successful at reducing traffic deaths had comprehensive safety programs that include improvement in road design and traffic management; regulation of vehicle safety; and regulation of driver behaviors regarding speed, alcohol and drug use, and seat belt and motorcycle helmet use, the committee found. 

"These management practices have produced success in other countries," said Oster, "but are lacking in the traffic safety programs of most U.S. states."  

 

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