The American Association
of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and a who's who of
transportation, safety and engineering groups announced Monday plans for a
new annual highway-safety observance, "Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day,"
The event's goal is to
promote public awareness that more than 40,000 Americans are killed annually
on the nation's highways - a toll that AASHTO believes could be lowered with
a new focus by drivers and backing for policies and budgets that promote highway
"Each day, 115 Americans
lose their lives in car crashes, on average," said AASHTO president E.
Dean Carlson. "That's far too many deaths, especially when you recognize
how many of them are preventable." Larry Emig, an engineer with the Kansas
Department of Transportation, which Carlson heads, conceived the safety event
idea as a grassroots attempt to raise Americans' consciousness about their
ability to reduce the deaths, injuries and high costs associated with vehicle
"Our motto for this
day is, 'Drive as if your life depends on it,'" said Emig. "We believe
individual action can make a real difference in saving lives."
Backers will focus on
the many causes of crashes to make people aware of the roles the driver, the
vehicle and the road can play in vehicle wrecks. In addition to asking drivers
to be more aware as they take to the highways, 25 sponsoring groups aim to
increase awareness of other steps individuals can take including vehicle maintenance
and support for policies that bring safety-enhancing road improvements to