Bernard Arseneau told the Transportation Steering Committee that it’s not unrealistic to imagine a world with no fatalities on public roads.
And even if that target isn’t hit, any improvement would be better than the 37,133 deaths recorded in 2018, which was an improvement over 2017.
Arseneau is the director of highways and roads at HDR, Inc., an architectural, engineering, and consulting firm. He previously worked for the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
“This whole concept of zero is something people struggle with,” he said. “We’re not going to get there tomorrow...we can have a broader collaboration of folks who can buy into this thing.”
He outlined the six areas crucial to improving road safety, but stressed that leadership was paramount.
“Top-down leadership does work,” he said. “You have the ability and influence to say ‘we have to do more.’”
He added that a technical champion, one who working in engineering or enforcement departments, was pivotal, too, giving a poltical leader some backup. Collaboration is necessary to bring all factors together. Engineering, education, emergency servcies and enforcement all complement each other.
Focusing on six areas can influence road safety:
- The road infrastructure itself
- The driver - more than 90 percent of traffic accidents are due to driver error
- The vehicle - technological improvements and safety features are added to every model year
- Enhanced emergency medical services - improved response times and making sure accident victims are taken to the appropriate medical facilities are crucial
- Safer vulnerable users- such as bicyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians
- Improved safety management