There are reports aplenty that cross our desk every day, some good, some bad, some just plain stupid.
The most recent, and this is one of the good ones, finds that American motorists “strongly support” a broad array of safety measures, from reducing local street speed limits and building more roundabout intersections to stricter seatbelt enforcement efforts.
The report was based on a survey of 2,000 U.S. motorists conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for the Road to Zero Coalition.
The Road to Zero Coalition is managed by the National Safety Council and has issued a roadmap to end roadway deaths in the U.S. by 2050.
There are almost 900 members of the coalition, the first time so many organizations have collaborated to put forth a plan to address motor vehicle fatalities, which recently increased after years of decline.
(As a footnote, the NORC was established in 1941 as the National Opinion Research Center, hence the name NORC).
The NORC report, titled “Underutilized Strategies in Traffic Safety: Results of a Nationally Representative Survey,” found support for a variety of motor vehicle safety initiatives.
They are listed below with the percentage of survey respondents who named the initiative, along with some personal comments from yours truly:
- Increasing the use of sobriety checkpoints to discourage impaired driving (65%). We most often hear of sobriety checkpoints during the Christmas-New Year time frame, but here in Little Rock, the bars are full every weekend.
- Deployment of more speed and red-light cameras to discourage reckless driving (60%). Our office window overlooks a stoplight at the intersection of the Interstate 630 exit and University Avenue, one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares. Most of the time, when the light turns red for University Avenue traffic, two or three cars go through the red light.
- Reducing local speed limits by 5 miles per hour (69%). The odds of lower speed limits slowing down traffic are about as good as winning the lottery.
- Alcohol ignition locks for people who have been convicted of driving while intoxicated (83 %). Good idea, given the lack of sobriety checkpoints.
- Saliva screening to prevent drugged driving (74%).
- Stricter seat belt law enforcement (82%). We think drivers are pretty good about buckling up. We seldom see anyone not wearing a seatbelt.
- Requiring cars to have seat belt reminder chimes (70%). Most do, and they are quick to chime when someone tries to drive unbuckled.
- Passing mandatory motorcycle helmet laws (86%). Cyclists riding without a helmet have much, much better odds of being severely injured or killed than they have of winning the lottery.
- Replacing dangerous intersections with roundabouts (73%). We despise roundabouts, especially installed at an intersection where a stop sign would work just as well. Here in Little Rock, city fathers use roundabouts to display some of the most horrid metal artwork we’ve ever seen.
- Installing rumble strips on more roads (90%). A nuisance, especially like the ones in Little Rock that have been installed 10 feet from a stop sign.
The only question on which those motorists polled were totally divided was lowering the blood alcohol limit to .05 in their state.
Yet 56 percent of the drivers participating in the survey said they would support such a lower limit if the penalty involved fines and the suspension of one’s license rather than criminal charges.
We think legislators should listen to doctors for advice about how low to set the limit.
We say, the lower the better, especially since there are so few sobriety check points.
The survey also found that drivers were taking advantage of ridesharing services to avoid drinking and driving as 60 percent of those who said they’d used a ride sharing service in the past year said they had done so at least once to avoid drinking and driving.
“The results of this poll are clear: Safe roads are a priority for Americans, and they support ideas that encourage everyone to slow down and avoid impaired driving. Given the research available, this makes perfect sense,” said James Fell, a principal research scientist at NORC at the University of Chicago, in a statement. “Drivers are also now taking the extra step to do something about making our roads safer as evidenced by their use of ridesharing apps to get home safely.”
If you want to suggest some initiatives to foster safer driving, write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.