Thursday, April 7, 2011

The case for safety

Today's guest blog is by Jurek G. Grabowski, Director of Research at the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

All deaths due to unintentional injuries are preventable. Don't believe me? Take a look at commercial aviation. There were zero U.S. airline fatalities last year. In fact, 2010 was the third year in the past four to be free of passenger deaths, and the fourth such year since 2002. That makes the years between 2000 and 2010 of one of the safest decades ever to fly in this country. Much of it can be attributed to the so-called "safety culture" that was adopted by the aviation industry and governmental agencies over the last three decades. Safety culture can loosely be defined as a social environment in which safety is greatly valued and meticulously pursued. Although there is more research needed to define all the factors that make up and define safety culture, there is no uncertainty that the results are defined by less death and less pain people suffer due to injuries. It is also certain that "safety culture" is not just a one-time thing. It is something that individuals and organizations need to cultivate, discuss and practice year in and year out. And new data show this mentality is starting to gain traction.

Last week, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) early estimates show that traffic deaths in the U.S. have reached the lowest levels on record since 1949. When you closely examine the 2010 data you can see that large decline in the first six months of the year was the biggest factor of this remarkable decline in traffic fatalities. But, we can't rest on our recent successes. Now is time to double down on a commitment to "safety culture" not only in traffic safety but all types of injury because all unintentional injuries are preventable.

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