While our highways and roadways provide a very necessary and convenient means of travel, they also take a toll in lives lost. Approximately 1.2 million people are killed in traffic accidents annually and another 50 million are injured. Among persons under the age of 50, auto accidents are the number one cause of death. Highway safety is a matter that is overseen by a number of entities: state highway patrol officers, local police, city road crews and state departments of transportation are some of the organizations that play a part in keeping people safe as they utilize the roadways.
Overseeing and maintaining highway safety is an involved process that can be challenging regardless of how many individuals or agencies are involved. Even those involved in the design and development of the roadways themselves play a large part in seeing to the safety of those who will be traveling on them. These engineers must keep in mind that one of the most significant points in helping to ensure highway system safety is to create, construct, and maintain these highways to effectively serve a wider range of vehicles and their operators as they interact with one another on these roadways. Modern advancements and state-of-the-art innovations in road maintenance practices have made for a wider range of safety feature implementations in recent years. The combination of safety measures applied by organizations who directly oversee road travel and its rules and regulations as well as the practices put into action during the design and construction of the roads themselves serve to keep people safe as they go about their travels.
Even with all of the precautions and safety measures seen to by these various entities, the greatest amount of responsibility lies solely with the drivers who use these highways. Speed, drinking and driving, fatigue, and other driver-related factors make up a large portion of the issues related to accidents and resulting injuries/deaths. This is where the law enforcement aspect of things come into play, as drivers who are not following the rules of the road, driving in an incapacitated or inebriated state, or operating a vehicle that is not in good working order account for the greatest majority of traffic accidents that result in serious injury or death.
Highway safety is the responsibility of those who will be traveling on the roads, those who design and construct them, and those who are charged with watching over them daily. While the occasional (actual) accident is inevitable, such as the ones caused by drivers having some sort of medical episode (heart attack, seizure, etc.) or an automobile malfunction that is not related to anything the driver has done, by drivers observing laws related to driving and engineers working to develop and maintain efficient roadways, highway safety can continue to improve and untold lives can be saved.