As the ninth leading cause of preventable death globally – and the foremost killer of 15-29 year-olds –  traffic-related accidents are a modern scourge that claim more than 1.2 million lives every year and injure tens of millions more.1 Reducing the number of fatalities and injuries brought about by unsafe driving will require a sustained, broad-based and innovative effort on the part of both the public and private sectors. 

To that end, in April 2014 the United Nations made improving global road safety part of its post-2015 development agenda.2 A month previously, AIG and Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) had co-signed an open letter, joined by representatives from Siemens, Volvo, and WalMart, urging the UN to consider including road safety in its Sustainable Development Goals.  And today, AIG and AB InBev are co-chairs of a private sector global initiative to help reduce driving-related accidents and improve overall road safety worldwide. 

Together for Safer Roads (TSR) is the world’s first global private-sector coalition on road safety.  TSR has aligned its goals with the UN’s Decade of Action for Road Safety and will focus on using its member’s knowledge, data, technology, and global networks to promote safer roads, drivers and vehicles. In addition to its co-chairs, initial TSR members include AT&T, Chevron, Facebook, Walmart, Ericson and PepsiCo, iHeartMedia and Tesla.

Leveraging Data and Imaging to Reduce Traffic Accidents

As an example of the kind of effort TSR members are making, AIG is working with New York University in a yearlong study of two intersections to identify situations that lead to (or are likely to lead to) crashes – and to take steps to correct them so that the number of actual crashes will be reduced. The effort combines state-of-the-art image processing techniques that are used to extract the trajectories of vehicles and pedestrians with a statistically-driven methodology that uses relevant characteristics of the intersections (traffic patterns, intersection geometry, etc.) to correlate vehicle and pedestrian trajectory data with actual accident data. If effective, the approach could be generalized and promises a way to tailor improvements to specific high-risk intersections that can significantly reduce the level of death and injuries associated with them.  Learnings gleaned from the approach should also be useful in designing new intersections that are inherently safer than they otherwise would have been. 

On the Road Again – Reducing Truck Driver Fatigue 

“I’ve been everywhere, man.  I’ve been everywhere,” sang Johnny Cash, and many of the world’s truck drivers would no doubt nod in agreement.  Long hours behind the wheel have long been known to bring on fatigue.  But what is likely less well known is that the whole-body vibration (WBV) that a truck driver experiences in his or her hours on the road is also believed to be contribute to driver fatigue.  Researchers have found that WBV increases the load on the spine, contributes to muscle fatigue, and is linked to disc herniation.3

To decrease the effects, AIG and Bose, the innovator in noise cancelling headphone technology, are providing funding to the RAND Corporation to study the link between WBV and driver fatigue.  In addition, Bose has designed a seating system capable of cancelling out most road vibrations, giving drivers of the thousands of multi-ton trucks that crisscross our roads and interstates daily the opportunity to drive more safely and healthily – a clear benefit not only to the drivers, but to everyone else on the road.  AIG has teamed up with Bose to offer these systems at a discount to AIG’s trucking clients.  

Improving the safety of the world’s roads is a worthy goal.  AIG, as a TSR company, is committed to doing its part to achieve it.

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