• February 12th, 2019

Imagine yourself in 2050, the first year in which not a single person in America died in a traffic crash.

How can that be? The United States’ population has exceeded 400 million. The demand for mobility has increased with the population and improved access to transportation, especially for groups that previously had limited mobility options.

It’s thanks to some amazing strides we’ve made since the 2010s in several different areas. Nearly all vehicles, including motorcycles, now have high levels of vehicle automation, whether they are self-driving or human-driven. Almost all cars now brake automatically, warn drivers about objects in their blind spots, park themselves, adjust their speed, and stay in their lanes. While crashes still happen, there are many fewer of them.

In 2050, those crashes are less severe, in part because of changes to how we build roads. Roadways are designed to reduce speed in safety-critical areas and lessen the chances of the most severe crash types, such as head-on collisions, while allowing faster travel in areas that are safer and where there are few potential conflicts among vehicles or between vehicles and pedestrians or cyclists. Over the past decades, planners and engineers have prioritized changes to the highest-risk roads, which are identified by collecting and analyzing detailed data.