A new research report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has discovered that when traffic safety laws are enforced, it has a positive effect on the safety of motorists.
Jonathan Adkins, the executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), commented on the findings, highlighting the need for a focus on the most hazardous driving behaviors. The report included 80 studies that looked at the correlation between high visibility enforcement initiatives and safety outcomes.
It found that initiatives such as the “Click It or Ticket” seat belt enforcement program have caused the belt use rate to increase from 58% in 1994 to over 90% today, although the rate dropped slightly in 2020 due to reduced traffic enforcement during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Additionally, the study showed that enforcement campaigns directed at distracted, alcohol-impaired, and excessive speed driving, have resulted in a decline in hand-held cell phone use, fewer drunk driving crashes and tickets, and lower speeds in construction zones.
Despite this, Adkins underlined that enforcement alone is not enough, and the Safe System approach, also known as Vision Zero, is necessary. This system, which was first implemented in Sweden in the 1990s, aims to eradicate all traffic deaths and serious injuries by creating numerous protective layers that will minimize the impact of a crash if one fails.
Full report is available on US Department of Transportation website here.