What is traffic justice?

Traffic justice is a term that describes another way to look at motor vehicle crashes, which kill more than 40,000 and injure several million people in America each year. Motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of children and even young adults into their 30s. Measured by years of potential life lost, road crashes in the U.S. are topped only by deaths caused by cancer and heart disease. Traffic justice advocates join safety specialists in preferring the word crashes instead of accidents. The word "accidents" implies that such events are regrettable yet unavoidable byproducts of our transportation system.

Proponents of traffic justice ask what measures are necessary to eliminate virtually all such incidents; a similar standard is imposed on the U.S. airline and nuclear industries. A call for traffic justice would encourage policy-makers in the United States to join other countries in adopting a vision that these deaths and injuries are preventable. Sweden's Vision Zero serves as a model (read more at http://publikationswebbutik.vv.se/upload/1723/88325_safe_traffic_vision_zero_on_the_move.pdf and http://sei-international.org/projects?prid=247).

Proponents of traffic justice maintain that U.S. policy-makers must make streets safer in the first place rather than simply seek to mitigate injuries through improvements to crashworthiness. For instance, traffic justice advocates would argue that because speeding is cited as the cause of many crashes, roads should not be designed for speeds far greater than posted speed limits. Another causal example is red light running, yet many jurisdictions resist installing cameras at intersections. A system of traffic justice would hold drivers seriously accountable for the deaths they cause instead of simply mourning — or even blaming — the victims of crashes.