In 2020, people drove significantly less, yet the number of people involved in fatal transportation crashes rose eight percent since 2019 to over 42,000. And preliminary numbers for 2021 are not better – through September 2021, fatalities increased 12 percent compared to the same timeframe the year before. Even prior to 2020, transportation related fatalities consistently averaged about 35,000 - that’s 35,000 more than the acceptable number of zero. Traffic crashes take people away without notice, but what makes them even worse is they could be prevented.
Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) are required to consider safety during the transportation planning process and set performance measures and targets. And local agencies, while not required to address safety specifically, are well positioned to implement safety improvements to help meet performance goals. One of the biggest challenges, even in regions and local jurisdictions where safety is being addressed, is fatalities are still increasing. The time couldn’t be better for MPOs and local agencies to re-think their approaches to safety.
Frustrated over the conventional business model for reducing traffic injuries and deaths, the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) in Phoenix, Arizona decided not to continue with business as usual. MAG is one of the first MPOs in the country taking steps to incorporate the Safe System Approach (SSA) into their organizational and planning processes to prevent severe crashes. They developed a stand-alone Safe System in Action plan with the primary focus on creating a culture where safety is prioritized. To achieve this culture, the plan identifies areas and locations of opportunity, promotes the use of high-value countermeasures, and communicates safety as a shared language. MAG is now working alongside local agencies, and other partners to implement these ideas and engrain safety as the number one business priority. This presentation will highlight how the SSA and its focus on culture as a new way to address severe crashes. This session will also shed light on how to think about safety differently and reduce severe crashes.