To a great extent, the historic drop in 2010 roadway deaths in the United States can be attributed to highway improvements over the past five years, according to the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), a national roadway safety group. The association credits the nation's Highway Safety Improvement Program--or HSIP--as a major contributor to the improvement.
HSIP, a core part of the Federal-aid highway program, was signed into law on August 10, 2005 as part of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). The program was established to achieve a significant reduction in traffic fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads through the implementation of infrastructure-related highway safety improvements. HSIP funds are typically spent on deploying lifesaving infrastructure safety measures that remain effective for years.
"The HSIP enabled states to improve roadways and install lifesaving safety features like guardrails, cable barriers, highly-reflective signage, rumble strips and other improvements," said Roger Wentz, ATSSA president and CEO. "Since its inception, the national number of fatalities has continued to decline year after year, from 42,708 in 2006, to 32,885 in 2010."
In 2009, ATSSA commissioned Science Application International Corporation (SAIC) to assess the linkage between the HSIP and the declining fatality numbers. The study concluded that for every $1 million spent on safety, seven lives were saved, yielding a benefit to cost ratio of 42 to one.