New highway safety event planned for Oct. 10

| 10/2/2001

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," Oct. 10.

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 safety.

"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 crashes.

"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 more communities.