ToolKit: Sample Op-Ed Article

Every 16 Minutes, Another Family Loses A Loved One.
Imagine a Day with Zero Traffic Fatalities..


October 10, 2015 is the fourteenth year of Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day.  The 2015 theme is "Don't Drive Distracted - Drive to Arrive."  Driver distractions or inattentive driving play a part in one out of every four motor vehicle crashes. In 2012 3,328 people died in crashes involving distracted drivers and more than 421,000 were injured. (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration).

In order to reduce fatalities the campaign asks everyone to focus on their own behavior when using America's roadways - as pedestrians, bicycle and motorcycle operators, motor vehicle operators and passengers. Each person must take an extra measure of care to ensure their safety and the safety of others by sharing roadways in a safe manner

The Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day Program was kicked-off in 2001, patterned after the Great American Smoke out and believed necessary when statistics showed that from 1995 thru 2000 over 250,000 deaths had occurred on our highways and streets. The sad news is that the 33,561 fatalities for 2012 could be the number of approximately one-half the attendees at a large football stadium on a fall afternoon. The good news is that with many promoted safety programs, improved roadways, safer cars and slightly less number of miles driven there has been a downward trend in the number of annual fatalities. In 2008 the number of fatalities was 37,261.  The trend is significant and gives hope that the number of fatalities can and will be reduced even further as 33,561 annual deaths is unacceptable with nearly one life lost every 16 minutes.

Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day will be celebrated in various locations around the nation and here in (CITY, STATE) to continue encouraging the public to make special efforts to keep themselves and their loved ones from becoming one of those statistics. (ADD STATE AND OR LOCAL STATISTICS IF AVAILABLE.)

Beginning with October 10th and every day thereafter an even fewer number of deaths lost in vehicle related crashes can result if everyone not only imagines a day with zero fatalities but also takes personal responsibility and pro-active steps such as:

  • Drive assertively, as if your life depends on it - that means courteously and defensively;
  • Don't drive distracted (no cell phones and blackberries must be turned off and if needed pull off the road to a safe location).
  • Give full attention to the road ahead (driving 60 mph means traveling 88 feet in one second) in order to recognize conditions and make save driving decisions;
  • Don't drive while impaired (no alcohol if driving);
  • Buckle-up every trip - every time;
  • Use properly-installed child safety seats for children age 8 and under;
  • Don't speed, and slow down to posted speed limits in construction zones;
  • Keep vehicles and tires properly maintained;
  • Wear appropriate protective gear when bicycling, skating or riding a motorcycle or scooter;
  • Always stop, and look left, right, left before crossing streets; and
  • Work with local officials to remove hazards and improve roadway safety.

Special Insert:
IF THERE HAS BEEN A TRAFFIC CRASH RECENTLY PUBLICIZED IN YOUR AREA, BRIEFLY DESCRIBE THE INCIDENT, BUT DO NOT USE THE INDIVIDUAL NAMES OF THE PEOPLE INVOLVED WITHOUT PERMISSION. We can prevent tragedies like this from happening in the future - but only if we all commit to making motor vehicle crashes, injuries and death prevention a top priority.

There is a role for everyone, whether as a driver, passenger, motorcyclist, pedestrian or cyclist. The good news is that by working together, we can continue to reduce traffic fatalities. By making traffic safety a priority for you and your family year-round, you just may prevent yourself or someone you love from becoming one of the 90 people who become a fatality.

In 2006 the Transportation Safety Committee of T&DI - ASCE became stewards of the program and website (www.brakesonfatalities.org) The National Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day Committee creates and promotes the annual program. Numerous federal agencies, states, local agencies, organizations and individuals are involved in promoting an annual event.

The Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day program's mission has been to serve as an advocate and a resource to help reduce fatalities. This includes the support of the recently established national goal of "Towards Zero Fatalities.” Organizations interested in learning more should visit our website at www.brakesonfatalities.org. If your organization wishes to become involved in the PBFD please send an email with the name of a contact person to pbfday@asce.org and visit the Tool Kit page for material and ways to create an October 10th event.