Traffic fatalities cost the U.S. a great deal. There are the accidents themselves, which kill and injure motorists, resulting in costs as varied as the repair costs to sections of highway infrastructure damaged in the crashes, to the loss of income to a family from a husband or wife death.
There are the long-term costs of the injured survivors, who may suffer occasional pains in their damaged, but slowly healing limbs, or the need to take a less demanding job as a commensurate loss of pay due to lingering memory issues tied to a traumatic brain injury. And there are those who will live, but will require the services of round-the-clock healthcare or may be restricted to a motorized wheelchair the rest of their lives.
There are the more diffuse costs, such as the tens of thousands of hours of traffic delays that are caused by the millions of car and truck accidents that occur in the course of a year and generate delays on the nation's highways measured in minutes or hours. This adds to the collective lowering of the quality of life by adding to the congestion and stress for millions of additional drivers.
And there is the ineffable loss of human capital in the most genuine sense. How many innovations, scientific discoveries or other improvements have been lost in the carnage of the tens of thousands who die every year?
Progress has been made, but with a population fifty percent larger than the city of Chambersburg dying on the highways of this country every year, much more needs to be done. And there is a movement to achieve zero traffic deaths throughout the nation.
Because the facets of the problem are so varied, including driver behavior, protective capabilities of motor vehicles and the design of highways, it may seem that coordination difficult, but the better we see all of these steps as important, essential and linked, the sooner zero traffic deaths will not seem like an impossible dream.