Friday, March 11, 2022

Enabling Continued Improvement to Road Safety in Puerto Rico


The US Department of Transportation has recently announced the total allocation of $1.14 billion to repair bridges and roads in Puerto Rico and four other territories. The funding has been granted through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and, this fiscal year, $219 million will be made available to the territories. As well as promoting economic growth and creating new jobs, improving infrastructure in Puerto Rico will create more sustainable and resilient roads that are also safer for all users from large commercial truck fleets to more vulnerable cyclists and pedestrians. While Puerto Rico has already been recognized for its commitment to improving road safety, further measures are being implemented in order to help meet Vision Zero targets in the near future.

Reducing Liability Risks for Fleet Managers

While Implementing measures to reduce the risk of accidents is essential, the performance and safety of vehicle fleets in Puerto Rico will be greatly improved now that 3G networks are being disconnected and replaced by 4G capabilities. This is because faster and more responsive devices will allow both drivers and fleet managers to monitor vehicle performance and act quicker in the event of an emergency.  Small business owners are still more vulnerable to the unexpected costs of litigation, and for companies that also manage a fleet of commercial vehicles, legal risks can include liability for road traffic accidents and injuries. While it is important to ensure they have adequate cover if a case is brought against them, many small firms find the upfront costs of legal services prohibitive. In this situation, contingency attorneys can offer an affordable alternative as they only require payment if the case they are instructed to work on is successful.

Rewarding a Culture of Road Safety

The latest figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show the highest percentage increase in road fatalities in the US and its territories since the first official crash data recordings began in 1975. According to the US Department of Transportation, over half of the expected 40,000 fatalities occurred in just 15 states and Puerto Rico alone. Despite these figures, the number of traffic deaths has reached historically low numbers in Puerto Rico. In recognition of the island’s developing culture of road safety, the Puerto Rico Department of Transportation and Public Works was recently awarded a global safety award by the International Road Federation (IRF). The award was presented on the last day of the IRF’s safety conference focusing on Latin America’s Vision Zero, a highway system without any fatalities or serious injuries.  Fifty years ago, Puerto Rico was the first US jurisdiction to require the use of safety belts and, since the implementation of the Strategic Highway Safety Plan 8 years ago, a range of sectors have continued to work together to further improve levels or road safety.

The combination of funding for improvements to road infrastructure together with advances in vehicle connectivity will help Puerto Rico to continue to improve levels of road safety.

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