In May 2014, the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a new study that underscores the high economic toll and societal impact of motor vehicle crashes in the United States. The price tag for crashes is a heavy burden for Americans at $871 billion in economic loss and societal harm. This includes $277 billion in economic costs – nearly $900 for each US citizen and a total of $594 billion in harm from the loss of life and the pain and decreased quality of life due to injuries.
In 2012 approximately 34,000 traffic fatalities occurred in the United States. But how do you assign economic value to a life? In the NHTSA Report US Secretary Antony Foxx said, “No amount of money can replace the life of a loved one, or stem the suffering associated with motor vehicle crashes, but the economic and societal costs of crashes are staggering.” In pragmatic terms the value of a life depends on future earning ability, family responsibility, accumulated wealth, and many other factors. On average, court cases have compensated families’ amounts in the range of $1 to 2 million for an individual life. Even at $1 million a year, the 34,000 traffic facilities in the United States represented a loss of $34 billion
for deaths alone.
AASHTO has adopted an initiative of “Toward Zero Deaths, and the MAP-21 legislation enacted by congress increased the Highway Safety Program appropriation, introduced performance metrics and requires state DOT’s to implement Safety Data systems. As such, agencies must spend their appropriated funds wisely to reduce crashes and meet performance targets. Some transportation agencies analyze and make funding decisions using spreadsheets and simple databases. But agencies with large road networks cannot make optimum safety program decisions with such simple methods. A modern Safety Management System (SMS) can provide the best tools to get the optimum improvements from your available safety funding.
AgileAssets® Safety Analyst™ software is a comprehensive SMS that enables safety analysts, engineers, and managers to analyze, plan and implement effective safety programs. There are five aspects of AgileAssets Safety Analyst software that differentiate it from other methods.
- Unique Screening Implementation – AgileAssets has programmed a versatile sliding window screening process that is unique to Safety Analyst that identifies “hot spots” more accurately.
- Strong Database Management Capability – Because safety requires a solid database for the network and crash information, the Safety Analyst module is powered by a relational database which can store any level of complexity of data.
- Easy to Configure – It is easy to customize the Safety Analyst to your organization’s unique processes and display requirements.
- Flexible Implementation – (a) Safety performance can be defined and updated as it may change from year to year based on government mandates. (b) You can create decision trees to help make better decisions. (c) Cost-benefit calculations and techniques can be adjusted to meet specific agency needs.
- Cross-Functional Integration – When your agency tries to allocate funds across divisions it is critical to have tools that help make good funding decisions; for example, making funding decisions among pavement, bridges, and safety programs. Through its integration with another AgileAssets tool, Tradeoff Analyst™, asset managers can produce optimum work plans across programs over time.
Safety management is about saving lives and property damage which in total has a significant economic and societal cost. A modern safety management system, such as AgileAssets Safety Analyst, can provide the tools to systematically analyze, plan and implement safety programs for even the largest road networks.
 “New NHTSA Study Shows Motor Vehicle Crashes Have $871 Billion Economic and Societal Impact on U.S. Citizens,” NHTSA 19-14, May 28, 2014.
Written by: Dr. Ronald Hudson on October 10, 2014