Zero Deaths: A Goal For Everyone

News Release from MDOT
LANSING, Michigan --- The Traffic Improvement Association of Michigan (TIA) commends the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) for launching a new statewide public education campaign today on Michigan highways.

Photo by Flickr User almostsummersky
MDOT is displaying the number of traffic fatalities on Michigan roadways year to date on selected message signs, also known as Dynamic Message Signs (DMS).  The message will be displayed one day per month along various I, M, and US routes, and the campaign is scheduled to run from July through November.
"Research has shown that public education and involvement are vital to achieving a reduction of traffic crash fatalities and injuries," said Jim Santilli, executive director of TIA.  "I commend MDOT for using an innovative approach to educate all motorists about the importance of safe driving.  We must all remember the numbers displayed represent real people whose families were torn apart by a traffic crash, which is completely preventable."

Photo by MDOT
As Michigan moves Toward Zero Deaths, MDOT believes it is imperative that every opportunity be taken to improve safety on Michigan roadways.  Driver behavior factors into nearly 90 percent of all fatal crashes and one key to changing driver behavior is educating the public on the scope of the issue.  Posting fatality messages on DMS is one simple and inexpensive way MDOT can contribute to that effort.  Currently, nine states are posting fatality messages on their own DMS.

"It's a startling statistic and that's the point," said MDOT Director Kirk Steudle.  "Displaying the number of lives lost on Michigan roads can be an effective way to influence driver behavior and increase driver focus."

According to Lieutenant Gary Megge of the Michigan State Police Traffic Services Section in Lansing, driver error and behavior are the biggest challenges when it comes to the safety of our roadways.

"If everyone could steer clear of driving distracted, drowsy, impaired or careless, our roads would be much safer," said Megge.  "Displaying hard data for motorists is an eye opener that will increase awareness and focus."

If a situation occurs where another message is deemed a higher priority than the safety message, the sign will be switched.  Higher priority messages include incident messages, lane closures, shoulder closures and work zone messages.

According to the Michigan State Police, there were 273,891 reported traffic crashes in Michigan during 2012, of which 870 were fatal and 51,685 were personal injury.  281 of the fatal crashes were alcohol related.

"Remember, one simple mistake by a driver can change many lives forever," said Santilli.  "When operating a motor vehicle, we ask that drivers remain focused on the road, keep their hands on the wheel, driver sober, buckle up, and obey all traffic control devices.  These simple practices will help to ensure their safety, and the safety of the innocent people around them."