WAUWATOSA, Wis. — The City of Milwaukee is already working towards zero deaths on the roads from crashes, and now the federal government has its own program to reach that goal. The Federal Highway Administration wants to make sure everything has been done to prevent a crash from ever happening. They are doing that through a new initiative called the Safe System approach.
"A traffic crash isn't just one issue, it is a multitude of issues of things that go wrong that cause a fatal or serious injury crash,” said Andrea Bill, a traffic safety engineer research program manager at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Safe System uses a five-step approach:
- Safe Road Users
- Safe Vehicles
- Safe Speeds
- Safe Roads
- Post-Crash Care
The idea is that everyone involved with road usage is asked to consider what their role is in preventing a crash and work together.
"A way to think about it is, what is the role of enforcement? What is the role of engineering? What is the role of education and drivers themselves and their behavior? We often talk about those as individual, separate things that exist in silos. This breaks it down and really says let's sit down and look at across the board what can we be doing and how do those factors play against each other. And how can we plan for a transportation system that reduces fatalities and injuries,” said Nick Jarmusz, director of public affairs for AAA Wisconsin.
Since this is a new program that is being adopted federally, currently, the state is meeting with local municipalities like the Milwaukee County Department of Transportation and police to talk about how the program will be put in place at a local level. Milwaukee County DOT director Donna Brown-Martin says this plan will be key in stopping reckless driving.
"No one road ends in say Greenfield in terms of getting to where people need to go. They are all connected. They are connected to the county trunk highway system to the state trunk highway system. We have to work together to make this work,” said Brown-Martin.
So as the Safe System approach gets underway and the engineers work to design safer roads, automakers work to create safer vehicles and police work on more strategic enforcement, what can you do as a driver? Jarmusz says following speed limits and not being distracted on the road is key.
"Individual drivers need to know what the limitations of those features and systems are. They still need to be in control; they still have a role to play,” said Jarmusz.