Health Policy – Health-Related Policy Analysis

To:  State and Federal Legislatures
From:  Ariel Niazov
Re:  Mandate to Curb the Growing Problem of Road Related Fatalities

Statement of Issue: What type of mandate can be passed to curb the growing problem of road related injuries and death?

Road related injuries are the leading cause of death in individuals between the ages of 1-54 years old. In 2022 there was an estimated 43,000 traffic related fatalities in the United States which was a 10 percent increase from 2021 that had roughly 38,000 traffic deaths [1]. In that same year (2021), the total motor-injury cost was estimated to be around half a trillion dollars encompassing wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative costs, motor-vehicle property damage, and employer expenses [2].

  • Inadequate road infrastructure, including poor maintenance and design and nominal lighting in roadways that desperately need it all contribute to accident and mortality rates.
  • Distracted driving like cell phone usage and navigational devices, as well as speeding, adds to unsafe and risky driving conditions. Speeding in 2021 was about 30% of deaths of total motor vehicle fatalities, which was about 34 people every single day [3].
  • Non-adherence to traffic safety rules including not wearing seatbelts, and ignoring traffic signals and signs are also some of the reasons why the problem is growing.

Policy Options:

Option 1: Comprehensive Federal Mandate

Implement a federal mandate that encompasses a range of measures aimed at enhancing road safety emulating the Safe System Approach that has been championed in Sweden and the Netherlands. This mandate would include stricter traffic laws, reducing speeding signs through-out the country, improved infrastructure standards including implementing more redlight and speed cameras, and increased funding for road safety initiatives [4].

Advantages: A comprehensive approach tackles multiple contributing factors at once, leading to more effective outcomes. Coordinated efforts at the federal level ensure consistency across states, improving the overall impact. Increased federal funding supports the implementation of critical road safety projects including improved infrastructure standards, speed reduction measures, less distracted drivers, and safer roads for everyone.

Disadvantages: Resistance from certain states that have not already introduced a version of a Safe System Approach (like Vision Zero) or other interest groups may hinder the enactment of a comprehensive federal mandate. Detractors to the Safe System Approach say that the onus lies squarely on the drivers who are human and fallible, and not on the system that has already been set in place which was not safe from the beginning [5].

Option 2: Targeted Safety Initiatives

Introduce targeted safety initiatives addressing specific causes of road accidents, such as distracted driving, speeding, or impaired driving [6]. These initiatives would focus on public awareness campaigns and public outreach programs, stricter penalties, and improved enforcement of said initiatives with additional law enforcement agents on the ground [6].

Advantages: The targeted approach addresses specific issues directly, potentially leading to quicker results. Local and regional public awareness campaigns, that would be media driven, raise awareness about safe driving practices, promoting behavioral changes. Stricter distracted driver and speeding penalties would act as deterrents, reducing risky driving behavior. Increased police presence would tamp down the amount of distracted driving that would take place.

Disadvantages: Focusing on individual factors might overlook broader systemic issues contributing to road accidents. Enforcement challenges may arise due to the need for consistent implementation across jurisdictions including adding more law enforcement agents to get the most out of this initiative. Additionally, federal grants (like from the Highway Safety Improvement Program) might not cover enough funding to support this countermeasure, and more funds might not be in the works [7].

Option 3: Investments in Car Safety Technology

Car safety technology offers significant benefits in terms of reducing accidents and saving lives. These features attempt to avoid car accidents from ever taking place. Car safety has significantly improved over the past sixty years starting from the introduction of the seatbelt in the 60’s to cars having safety features like lane departure warnings to keep the driver situated in their lane.

Advantages: There has been a vast reduction in crashes and bodily injuries with the advancement of car safety systems. In 2015 a study showed that if every vehicle that was sold had blind-spot monitoring, upwards of 16,000 injuries would have been avoided [8]. With the addition of all the crash avoidance technologies that car manufacturers have been putting out, there has been a crash reduction of 3.5% [8].

Disadvantages: Car companies like GM, Ford, BMW, and others have and would still need to increase the pricing on their cars with the addition of these added safety features. Furthermore, car insurance premiums have not gone down with the addition of said safety features [9]. Additionally, most of these safety features are driver depended in the long run. Studies have shown that some drivers get more distracted in cars that they assume will do the work for them, initiating more car accidents and fatalities in the process that might not have occurred [10].

Policy Recommendation: To effectively address the growing problem of road-related injuries and death, a comprehensive federal mandate is the most appropriate course of action. Such a mandate would include a combination of targeted safety initiatives and increased investment in infrastructure. States like California, Florida, New York, and many others have already introduced initiatives aimed at road safety. By coordinating efforts at the federal level, this approach ensures a unified response to road safety challenges and enhances the likelihood of success.


[1] NHTSA Estimates for 2022 Show Roadway Fatalities Remain Flat After Two Years of Dramatic Increases | NHTSA. Published April 20, 2023.

‌[2] Introduction – Injury Facts. Injury Facts. Published 2017.

‌[3] Speeding. Injury Facts. Published 2021.

‌[4] Making our Roads Safer through a Safe System Approach | FHWA.

[5] Soames Job ,R.F., Truong J, Sakashita C. The Ultimate Safe System: Redefining the Safe System Approach for Road Safety. Sustainability. 2022;14(5):2978. doi:

[6] Híjar M, Pérez-Núñez R, Inclán-Valadez C, Silveira-Rodrigues EM. Road safety legislation in the Americas. Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública. 2012;32(1):70-76. doi:

[7] Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA). (2023). Comprehensive Highway Safety Plan (CHSP).

[8] Elliott C. Are Vehicle Safety Features Actually Reducing Car Accidents? Forbes Advisor. Published July 16, 2020.

[9] Meyer S. Why tech that makes your car safer won’t lower your insurance rates Published March 29, 2023.

[10] Waite D, Associates, LLC. Pros and Cons of Car Safety Technology. Dean Waite & Associates, LLC. Published October 18, 2018.

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