Psychology 409a - March 20, 2006
Traffic Safety Costs: The Problem and One Solution
By Aaron Reich

Peter Rothe, Editor (2002). Driving Lessons: Exploring Systems That Make Traffic Safer. (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press). pp. 173-192

Instructions for this activity are found at:
Instructor: Dr. Leon James

I. Costs of Traffic Safety

  • The cost of traffic trauma considerably exceeds the scoietal costs of AIDS, cancer, and heart disease, while the resources necessary to deal with traffic safety are far less. The true cost of traffic safety includes property loss, lost wages, ambulatory and medical costs, pain and sufffering, and the societal cost of rehabilitation. All of these are the cost of dangerous and aggressive driving behaviors. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37,081 fatal crashes, 2,029,000 injury collisions and 4,269,000 property-damage only crashes occured in the United States during 1998. The economic cost of these traffic crashes was approximately $150.5 billion.
  • Macro-level barriers are aggregate-level collective judgements and actions manifested through voting or media reports, and they include mandatory seat-belt use laws and regulated speed limits. Micro-level barriers result from individual actions, for example, when individuals choose to not wear a seat-belt. Macro-level safety initiatives are affected by micro-level judgements and these two things can come into conflict.
  • Workers that die in work-related traffic crashes represent the largest single cause of death in the workplace. Most of these victims are not truck drivers, but rather regular drivers going to a work-related activity. Whether on the job or not, motor vehicle trauma is a major cost to organizations and society alike.
  • There are numerous types of traffic-related costs to society. These include: lost time, sick leave, temporary worker costs, insurance costs, lawsuits, reduced efficiency and productivity, reduced morale, and threats to corporate image. Each of this factors is significant in and of itself, but when they effect each other together, the cost of collisions is likely to be reported at far less than how much it actually cost.
  • II. Mission Possible at Work

  • Mission Possible at Work (MP@W) is a low-cost safety training program designed to heighten traffic safety awareness among employees, increase awareness of driving hazards on and off the job, promote traffic safety information-sharing among employees, motivate employees to drive safely on and off the job, and reduce both the number and severity of motor-vehicle collisions in which employees are involved.
  • The training session for MP@W follow a set of sequential guidelines intended to best delivery traffic-safety information. These include having the sessions at a regular and set schedule with the work staff that does not interfere with their regular work or extend their hours. There are sessions with affective objectives that are intended to increase the staff's awareness of traffic safety, and there are also sessions with cognitive objectives that are intended to educate the staff about traffic safety.
  • The goal of MP@W is to invoke a behavioral change in the driving of the work staff. This program prepares drivers to be ready for all sorts of things while driving. Education sessions address the action, maintenance and relapse of driver behavior. The sessions are offered at appropriate times and supplemental information is given to help the work staff maintain their new and improved driving behavior.
  • III. Related Links

    1. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia - This is a link to, as it says, the insurance corporation of British Columbia. On this web site there is information about MP@W and links to find MP@W locations in different areas of the world. This is interesting to look into as a student or a person who is interested in starting an MP@W program at their work place.

    2. U.S. Roads - This is a link to a website that offers information about road safety, management, and litigation. These are important things to know for any driver and this web site can help drivers learn the basics of the road laws and learn some statistics about traffic safety. This is essentially a database of traffic-related information.

    3. Improving Traffic Safety - This is a link to an article (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) about improving traffic safety that offers statistics for costs of traffic accidents much like the chapter of the text for the outline above. This article is very colorful and well-written and is an excellent supplementary reading for the chapter in Driving Lessons.

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