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Traffic fatalities could be eliminated by 2050, says coalition

Safer roads could be in the future for Iowa drivers if the Road to Zero Coalition is successful in its stated goal of reducing traffic deaths to zero by 2050. With traffic fatalities in 2016 rising around the country to 37,461, a 5.6 percent climb compared to the previous year, the coalition has identified a number of initiatives to bring these numbers back down again.

Large trucks were involved in accidents that resulted in 4,317 deaths, and some of the coalition's recommendations apply to both trucks and regular passenger vehicles. For example, half of people killed in traffic accidents are not wearing seat belts although 90 percent of all people wear seat belts. The coalition hopes to get this up to 100 percent. Another initiative is to emphasize safety and focus on reducing drunk driving, distracted driving and speeding.

Safety technology is also expected to play a role. This may be low-tech, as in the case of rear and side underride guards that prevent passenger vehicles from slipping under cars, or the technology may be more sophisticated. One coalition member, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, has determined that large truck accidents would be reduced or made less severe by 25 percent if all large trucks had safety technology that included stability, blind spot detection, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning and mitigation systems.

Unfortunately, even if the coalition is successful in its aims, these changes will not be implemented immediately, and some fatal truck accidents will continue to happen. Surviving family members may be due compensation if the accident was caused by an act of negligence by the trucking company, the truck driver or both. While this may cover expenses such as medical and funeral costs, it can also be critical if the person had dependents since they might receive compensation for loss of income as well.

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