Several years ago, I traveled to India to learn more about road safety risks. Like many growth regions of the world, India has many road safety challenges, so it might be easy to think we are pretty fortunate in the United States. But, the estimated road traffic death rate (per 100,000 population, 2013 data) was 10.6 in the US. That’s much higher than countries such as Sweden at 2.8, Singapore at 3.6, and our neighbor Canada at 6. So, we have some work to do.
May 8-14, 2017, is designated as Road Safety Week by the United Nations. This year’s theme is “Save Lives – #SlowDown.”
Speeding is a major risk factor for crashes. When you drive, you have more chance of avoiding a collision when you follow the speed limit, or go even slower when conditions — such as weather or traffic congestion — dictate. Lower speeds decrease your risk of a crash for a number of reasons:
- You will cover less distance while you make decisions and take action to avoid a potential collision.
- It will take less time for your vehicle to stop when you hit the brakes.
- You are more likely to keep control of your vehicle.
- Other road users are better able to judge the speed of your vehicle, especially pedestrians attempting to cross the road.
Research shows that a 5 percent cut in the average speed of traffic results in a 30 percent reduction in the number of fatal road traffic crashes. Let’s protect ourselves and get home safely to the ones we love. Who will you #SlowDown for?
Maureen Johnson is the Child Passenger Safety Specialist for Trauma Services at The University of Vermont Medical Center.