The Price Of Saving Driver’s Lives
Forcing all cars on roadways to be of the same size would be a very difficult task indeed. In fact, it wouldn’t be crazy to think that this would even be impossible. Nonetheless, forcing cars on the road to be the same size is still the backbone of my thesis and by the end of this, I will prove that it is not only necessary, but also achievable. So, up to this point the evidence makes it clear that the size of two vehicles involved in a car-to-car collision is one of the driving factors that make accidents so fatal. This makes it very clear that something needs to be done about the disparity of car sizes on roadways. Otherwise people will keep dying from something that is known and can be prevented. Going back to the challenge of forcing all cars to be the same size, the simplest and most effective solution would be to construct dedicated roadways for different classes of vehicles. This is a solution that will satisfy most people. Everyone will still have the freedom to choose whether they drive a big or small car, slow or fast one, pretty much whatever kind of car they want with the only downside being they would have to drive on certain designated roadways for their vehicle type. But, this isn’t even really a downside as I’m sure most people would agree that having a much lower chance of dying while driving but having to drive on specific roads isn’t that bad of a deal at all.
I originally said that this would be the simplest solution to the problem of forcing all cars to be the same size but that doesn’t actually mean that this task would be simple, it’s just the simplest out of the very limited options. Since it won’t be very easy and is pretty controversial, there is without a doubt plenty of arguments against this idea. Out of all the possible arguments, the one that most likely would be the top argument is that the cost of constructing multiple roadways for different sized vehicles is extremely high. This argument is an unsurprisingly very good one. To get an idea of how much it would actually cost we can take a look at an existing idea of truck only highway lanes. This is essentially the exact thing that I want to achieve but for more classes of cars than just trucks. In Corridors for Toll Truckways: Suggested Locations for Pilot Projects, Robert Poole and Peter Samuel “estimate that, in general, constructing a truck-only facility alongside an existing rural interstate would cost approximately $2.5 million per lane-mile (about $10 million per route-mile for two lanes in each direction), plus land acquisition costs, if applicable.” Currently, the United States Interstate Highway System is 46,876 miles long. This means that just for truck only highway lanes alone, it would cost a staggering $468 billion dollars to create. And for my thesis to work there would need to be at least two other roadways alongside the current roads meaning that number would be doubled.
So, as previously stated, the argument that constructing dedicated roadways would be too expensive is a valid one, but there is a reason why I still stand firm on the idea. That is that human lives are priceless. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “There were 33,654 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2018 in which 36,560 deaths occurred.” Some, if not a majority of these deaths could have been prevented if dedicated roadways were constructed. And according to the CDC, “Traffic crash deaths resulted in $55 billion in medical and work loss costs in addition to the immeasurable burden on the victims’ families and friends in 2018.” So if dedicated roadways were actually constructed and put into use, the lives that these new roadways save will in turn reduce that $55 billion. Let’s say, hypothetically, that the reduction in fatal car accidents due to dedicated roadways cut the $55 billion in half, bringing the total cost resulting from traffic crash deaths down to $27.5 billion. This means that, each year, the United States would save on average $27.5 billion. With this much money being saved every year, constructing dedicated roadways for different classes of cars can not only be seen as life saving but it also can be seen as a long term investment. Based on the estimated cost of truck only lanes, the cost of dedicated roadways can be estimated to be around $900 billion dollars. That means that it would only take around 32 years for the cost of the roadways to be balanced out by the yearly savings due to less fatal car accidents. Some may think that 32 years sounds like a long time, but compared to the age of the United States, it is not that crazy of a number. The $27.5 billion in savings doesn’t just end when the cost of the roadways is balanced out either, the United States will continue to save the money every year which is the long term investment part of this idea.
Money aside, constructing dedicated roadways for different classes of vehicles will save lives, thousands of lives in fact. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “A total of 4,136 people died in large truck crashes in 2018.” Nearly 70% of those deaths were occupants of cars while only 16% were deaths of the large truck drivers. These are thousands of deaths from only two of the different vehicle classes that could have been avoided if they weren’t driving on the same roadways. Bringing it back to the argument of being too expensive, yes, it is expensive but that money will eventually come back around and even profit will be made all while saving the lives of drivers. That is why forcing all cars on roadways to be of the same size is not only achievable, but also a necessary step towards reducing the fatality rate of accidents.
Fatality Facts 2018: Large trucks. (2019, December). Retrieved November 05, 2020.
Fatality Facts 2018: State by state. (2019, December). Retrieved November 05, 2020.
Forkenbrock, D. J., & March, J. (2005, September). Issues in The Financing of Truck-Only Lanes. Retrieved November 05, 2020.
Highway History. (2018, December 18). Retrieved November 05, 2020.
State-Specific Costs of Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths. (2020, October 26). Retrieved November 05, 2020.