You are here: Home / Articles / Safety / Accident Prevention / How Bad Roads Kill Good Drivers

How Bad Roads Kill Good Drivers

A highly heralded intersection safety program pioneered by AAA Michigan and its partners has achieved national recognition -- a feature article in Reader's Digest. The article, titled: "How Bad Roads Kill Good Drivers," appears in the July issue of the magazine, which is the second most widely circulated publication in America with a readership of nearly 25 million per month.

According to the article, more than 24,000 Americans died between 1998 and 2001 in car crashes in which neither driver error nor impairment were cited as factors, suggesting that the roads themselves contributed to the crashes. More than one-third of these deaths occurred at intersections, where outdated traffic signals, confusing lanes, blind spots or inadequate signage contributed to the crash.

As one solution, the article cites AAA Michigan's Road Improvement Demonstration Program (RIDP), a public/private partnership.

Developed as an innovative intersection improvement strategy, the RIDP combines public and private dollars, engineering expertise and multi- jurisdictional cooperation to contribute toward traffic safety enhancements at targeted high-crash locations in the cities of Detroit and Grand Rapids.

Since this first-of-its-kind demonstration program was launched in 1996, project partners have completed safety enhancements such as re-timed traffic signals, larger signal heads, dedicated left-turn lanes and all-red intervals to 131 locations in Detroit and 31 in Grand Rapids.

AAA Michigan has allocated $2 million for this multi-year project, which has already reduced crashes 26 percent and injury crashes by 46 percent at 60 evaluated high-risk intersections within each of these cities.

Tea-21- A Public Health Issue

Baby-boomers and older drivers tend to be the most vulnerable in driving at busy intersections because of their diminished vision and slower reaction times. It is estimated that, by 2020, there will be more than 40 million licensed drivers over the age of 65. For this reason, AAA has launched a nationwide initiative called Lifelong Safe Mobility that will address the three most important elements of traffic safety -- the road, the vehicle and the driver.

This fall, Congress is scheduled to reauthorize the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, also known as TEA-21. Since TEA-21 allocates money for traffic safety, AAA has a vested interest in how those funds are allocated.

To help focus Congressional attention on funding that will lead to real- world traffic safety solutions, AAA will publish a list -- "Ten Ways to Make Roads Safer," based on AAA Michigan's RIDP, as well as guidelines from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). In addition, AAA Michigan -- a strong supporter of TEA-21 -- offers the following guidelines for its home state:

  • TEA-21 should fund proven intersection safety improvement measures such as AAA's RIDP.
  • Congress must address Michigan's status as a donor state and invest at least 95 percent of the transportation funds that come from Michigan in Michigan.
  • Funds collected for roads should be spent on roads.

Traffic deaths are consistently one of the top 10 causes of death for all ages, rivaling cancer, heart disease, and HIV. For children, it is the leading cause of death and, for seniors, motor vehicle death rates are rising with alarming speed. For this reason, AAA views traffic safety as a public health issue. One of the keys to improving traffic safety, says AAA, is to make the roads themselves safer.

Partners in the AAA Michigan Road Improvement Demonstration Program (RIDP) include: City of Detroit, Wayne County Department of Public Services, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), City of Grand Rapids, Michigan State Police Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP), Wayne State University Civil Engineering Department and AAA Michigan.

Source: AAA Michigan