U.S. government sets goal of zero traffic deaths in 30 years

Seat belt use, introduction of self-driving cars expected to help

FILE - In this May 13, 2014 file photo, a Google self-driving car goes on a test drive near the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. Self-driving cars are expected to usher in a new era of mobility, safety and convenience. The problem, say transportation researchers, is that people will use them too much. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is setting a goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and injuries in the United States within the next 30 years.

Transportation Department officials laid out a plan Wednesday that would focus first on promoting efforts such as increased seat belt use, the use of rumble strips and campaigns against drunken and distracted driving.

The rapid introduction of self-driving cars and other advanced technologies makes it possible to achieve the zero deaths goal, the department said in a statement. Fully autonomous vehicles hold the potential to eliminate human error, which is a factor in 94 percent of crashes, according to the department.

“We know that setting the bar for safety to the highest possible standard requires commitment from everyone to think differently about safety, from drivers to industry, safety organizations and government at all levels,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

The plan was prompted by a 7.2 percent surge in road deaths last year. Preliminary estimates for the first six months of 2016 released in August by the National Safety Council show the rate of increase has accelerated, with fatalities up 9 percent over the same period last year.

The zero deaths idea was first adopted in Sweden in 1997 as a plan called Vision Zero. It has since been adopted elsewhere, including several U.S. cities.


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