Recent report shows a nearly 19 percent increase in crash fatalities in first half of 2021
Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine will continue to work with law enforcement and health professionals to develop educational programs and interventions that reduce traffic-related injuries and deaths.
With funding from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the UC San Diego Training, Research and Education for Driving Safety Program (TREDS) aims to educate drivers and pedestrians about making safety the number one priority when sharing the roadways.
A recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates 20,160 people died in crashes in the first half of 2021. This was an 18.4 percent increase from 2020 and the largest number of projected fatalities in that time period since 2006.
In California, there were 3,911 crash-related fatalities in 2020. The leading causes of these crashes were impaired driving, improper turn and speeding, all related to driver behavior and considered preventable.
"Implementing and investing in education and intervention strategies help raise awareness around dangerous driving behaviors. In turn, this helps to protect and benefit everyone who shares the road," said Linda Hill, MD, MPH, program director of TREDS and Distinguished Professor in the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science and UC San Diego School of Medicine.
Through the program, train-the-trainer courses are available to prepare law enforcement, clinicians and other traffic safety professionals to educate the public in the communities they serve. The free courses address impaired driving, including prescription medications, distracted driving, pedestrian safety and refresher education for aging drivers.
In addition to live and webinar training, learning opportunities will soon be available online in video format.
Promoting the safety of older drivers is a priority for TREDS this upcoming year. The aging population in the United States has increased the number of older drivers on the road with health impairments that can affect driving safety.
California has nearly four million people aged 65 and older with a driver license. In 2020, there were more than 40,000 crashes involving this age group. TREDS provides law enforcement and health professionals with training and written materials to assist in the identification and management of age-related impairments that can impact driving safety.
"It is critical that we continue to educate those on the frontlines of road safety so we can have a unified message to our community to drive safely," said Hill. "Safe driving means driving sober, without distraction, at the legal limit and without impairing medications."