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World Day of Remembrance and strides toward improved traffic safety

Busy road showing cars driving towards camera. A semi-truck is parked on the left side of the road and a worker, dressed in hi-vis, waves red flags to guide traffic.

This past Sunday, November 19, 2023, was the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. We at OTW are holding space for those affected, and we invite you to join us as we seek to bring awareness to the importance of roadway safety.

Road traffic victims include those who have died from vehicular accidents, as well as those walking, biking, scootering, working, and more, on the roadway.

Motor vehicle accidents have decreased over the past two years, yet the numbers are still staggeringly high. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that approximately 19,515 people have died thus far as a result of a vehicle crash in 2023, a 3.3% decrease from 2022 numbers. In a September 2023 NHTSA press release, NHTSA Acting Administrator Ann Carlson said, “While we are encouraged to see traffic fatalities continue to decline from the height of the pandemic, there’s still significantly more work to be done”, while U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg stated, “After spiking during the pandemic, traffic deaths are continuing to slowly come down—but we still have a long way to go.”

“While we are encouraged to see traffic fatalities continue to decline from the height of the pandemic, there’s still significantly more work to be done.”

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg

Pedestrians have the right of way, yet their deaths are ever-increasing across the nation. While motor vehicle fatalities have decreased from 2022 to 2023 in the US, pedestrian deaths have risen every year, at an increase of 77% from 2010 to 2021 (New York Times, 2023). 2022 saw the highest number of individuals struck and killed by a vehicle in 40 years: over 7,500 (NYT, 2023).

A continuing epidemic with a hoped-for cure

The issue of roadway fatalities hasn’t gone away since the advent of the motor vehicle, but is one that the World Day of Remembrance (#WDoR2023) is continually seeking a remedy for.

The organization’s theme this year is justice, and, like every year, they have a number of objectives in providing a platform for roadway victims and their families in 2023.

From the World Day of Remembrance website, the organization seeks to:

  • remember all the people killed and seriously injured on the roads
  • acknowledge the crucial work of emergency services
  • draw attention to the generally trivial legal response to culpable road deaths and injuries and advocate for an appropriately serious response
  • advocate for better support for road traffic victims and victim families
  • promote evidence-based actions to prevent and eventually stop further road traffic deaths and injuries

Taking initiative for roadway and traffic safety

National Traffic Awareness Month (August) and Pedestrian Safety Awareness Month (October) might be in our rearview mirror for 2023, but the need for intentional strides toward better pedestrian safety is a year-round concern. But how do we fight an issue that only seems to become worse every year?

There are many factors that have potentially contributed to the continuing epidemic of traffic fatalities, among them being an increase in risky driving during the COVID-19 pandemic, less awareness of drivers and those walking, and a lack of enforcement of laws that would help keep both drivers and pedestrians safe.

The Governor’s Highway Safety Association says that a start toward decreasing walking fatalities involves a number of things: improving infrastructure, lowering driving speeds (versus the increase we often see), and focusing enforcement on those who are participating in the risky behaviors that lead to fatalities, such as distracted driving, speeding, or driving while impaired.

For traffic crashes, the NHTSA and the Department of Transportation are making strides towards zero fatalities. These include safety initiatives, programs to improve driver behavior, and a one-year progress report that highlights the magnitude of the roadway safety problem (along with ways to bring down the number of deaths). These initiatives include the National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS) and the Call to Action campaign to implement it. According to the NRSS, almost 95 percent of our Nation’s transportation deaths occur on America’s streets, roads, and highways; the Call to Action campaign calls those in the government, law enforcement, industry (that’s OTW!), non-profit, and advocacy programs to join the U.S. Department of Transportation in creating safer streets.

“When it comes to roadway deaths, we have a crisis that’s urgent, unacceptable… and preventable. We cannot and must not accept that these fatalities are somehow an inevitable part of life in America.”

U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg

Work zone safety is roadway safety

OTW works every day towards safer work zones and safer streets. We manufacture the highest quality safety barricades on the market to help guard against accidents and fatalities. Whether on a small city block or a large interstate, OTW is dedicated to helping reduce motor vehicle and pedestrian fatalities to zero… one barricade at a time.

Join us this week and every day in remembering road traffic victims and those affected by their deaths and in taking action toward safer roadways across the nation.