“This is Texas together on the road to zero,” said Robert Wunderlich, director of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s (TTI’s) Center for Transportation Safety as he opened the 2018 Traffic Safety Conference in Sugar Land, Texas. The conference, supported by the Texas Department of Transportation, was held August 8–10. TTI hosts the Traffic Safety Conference each year, bringing together safety experts and health professionals from both the public and private sectors.
Working toward zero deaths on Texas roadways is a cornerstone of the Texas Strategic Highway Safety Plan, the main topic of discussion at the conference. Attendees were able to participate in seven different emphasis-area breakout sessions moderated by speakers discussing programs and measures that have proven successful in creating safer roadways. Those emphasis areas are distracted driving, impaired driving, intersection safety, older road users, pedestrian safety, roadway and lane departures, and speeding. Similarly, discussion circles were held to identify keys to success and how to overcome barriers related to each area.
“Why do we accept 40,000 deaths [per year in the United States]?” asked Deborah Hersman, president and CEO of the National safety Council, during her keynote speech. Hersman also chairs the national Road to Zero Coalition, which has a goal of ending roadway fatalities by 2050. “Why is that okay, and why aren’t we more outraged that we aren’t doing more?”
She told the crowd that the Lone Star State has more work-zone fatalities than any other state, as well as skyrocketing pedestrian and bicyclist deaths. Like the rest of the nation, about a third of fatalities in Texas are linked to impaired driving, Hersman said.
“Traffic safety issues are too complicated for any one group or profession to solve on its own,” Wunderlich says. “That’s why we bring these diverse groups together. We can learn from each other, and we can work toward zero deaths with each other.”