Progress towards zero, an international comparison: Improvements in traffic fatality from 1990 to 2010 for different age groups in the USA and 15 of its peers.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION In January 2015, the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced that the official target of the federal government transportation safety policy was zero deaths. Having a better understanding of traffic fatality trends of various age cohorts-and to what extent the US is lagging other countries-is a crucial first step to identifying policies that may help the USDOT achieve its goal. METHOD In this paper we analyze fatality rates for different age cohorts in developed countries to better understand how road traffic fatality patterns vary across countries by age cohort. Using benchmarking analysis and comparative index analysis based on panel data modelling and data for selected years between 1990 and 2010, we compare changes in the rate of road traffic fatality over time, as well as the absolute level of road traffic fatality for six age groups in the US, with 15 other developed countries. RESULTS-CONCLUSIONS Our findings illustrate tremendous variations in road fatality rates (both in terms of the absolute values and the rates of improvement over time) among different age cohorts in all of the 16 countries. Looking specifically at the US, our analysis shows that safety improvements for Youngsters (15-17 years old) was much better than for other age groups, and closely tracked peer countries. In sharp contrast, Children (0-14 years old) and Seniors (+65 years old) in the US, fare very poorly when compared to peer countries. For example, in 2010, Children in the US were a stunning five times more likely to experience a road traffic fatality than Children in the UK. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS This startling statistic suggests an immediate need to explore further the causes and potential solutions to these disparities. This is especially important if countries, including the US, are to achieve the ambitious goals set out in Zero Vision initiatives.

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