A leading transportation safety economist has called for major changes to U.S. highway infrastructure, citing a detailed report that claims more than half of roadway fatalities in the country are related to poor roadway conditions.
“The cost of crashes involving deficient roadway conditions dwarf the costs of crashes involving alcohol, speeding, or failure to wear a safety belt,” said Ted Miller, Ph.D., with the Beltsville, MD-based Pacific Institute for Research & Evaluation (PIRE), in testimony before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee this week.
“Focusing as much on improving road safety conditions as on reducing impaired driving would save thousands of lives and billions of dollars each year,” Miller added.
According to Miller’s report, crashes related to poor conditions cost American businesses $22 billion annually, as well as $12 billion in government costs and $12 billion in medical spending.
“Immediate solutions for problem spots include: using brighter and more durable pavement markings, adding rumble strips to shoulders, mounting more guardrails or safety barriers, and installing traffic signals and better signs with easier-to-read legends,” said Miller.
“More significant road improvements include replacing non-forgiving poles with breakaway poles, adding or widening shoulders, improving roadway alignment, replacing or widening narrow bridges, reducing pavement edges and abrupt drop-offs, and clearing more space on the roadside,” he added.
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