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DOT Plans to Reduce Traffic Injuries, Fatalities


Some Georgia drivers may have heard that on Oct. 5, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a plan to promote traffic safety by raising awareness about drunk and distracted driving and the importance of seat belt use. These are the preliminary steps in a long-term DOT plan to reduce the number of traffic-related deaths and injuries to zero.

The number of traffic fatalities in 2015 increased 7.2 percent from the previous year. Based on preliminary figures from the first half of 2016, that surge is continuing. To begin reducing these numbers, the Transportation Secretary said that the auto industry, drivers, government agencies and safety organizations must all work together.

Researchers say that human error is a factor in 94 percent of traffic accidents. Advances in technology and fully autonomous cars could help eliminate this human error and will be significant in eliminating deaths and injuries from traffic accidents. The idea of reducing vehicle-related fatalities and injuries to zero was originally put forward as a 1997 plan in Sweden called Vision Zero. It has since been adopted in other countries and cities.

Even when they are not fatal, car accidents can result in devastating injuries. A person might face years of rehabilitation or a permanent disability. If a driver, car manufacturer or someone else was at fault in the accident, then the injured victim may want to file a civil lawsuit against the responsible party. In a civil case, it will be necessary to prove that the responsible party was negligent. The actions of the responsible party do not necessarily have to be criminal actions, such as drunk driving, for the civil case to be successful.