REDUCING TRAFFIC FATALITIES AND INJURIES THROUGH VISION ZERO

In recent years, local governments in the United States have begun to embrace “Vision Zero” programs, which aim to reduce road fatalities to zero. Such rules, which have worked well in other places, have gotten even more attention since the start of the pandemic when traffic deaths and injuries have gone up by a lot.

The Vision Zero Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting local governments in putting the Vision Zero plan into action. Since its implementation in Sweden in 1997, the country’s traffic fatalities have been cut in half, motivating other countries to follow suit. Vision Zero is becoming an increasingly European Union-wide project.

These rules have been enacted by more than 40 towns across the United States, including large metropolitan areas such as New York City, Los Angeles, and Portland, Oregon. Several data points in Portland are assisting government officials in better understanding how to prevent traffic fatalities and injuries, including the high percentage of pedestrian crashes caused by vast distances between marked crossings. Portland has taken the lead, constructing “a pedestrian-protection system that includes regular safe crossings, street lights, a cultural acceptance of slower speeds, and people being taught about how to behave safely on the streets.”

Hoboken, New Jersey, Success

As of 2021, Hoboken, a community of around 54,000 people located across the Hudson River from New York City, has had no traffic fatalities for three years. Mayor Ravi Bhalla’s Vision Zero program has been instrumental in this. As a result of Mayor Bhalla’s executive order from 2019, the city’s bike-lane network has grown by 38 percent in 2019 and 2020, accounting for over half of the city’s 33 miles of streets.

Curb extensions at junctions, bigger crosswalks, and timed traffic signals have also been installed to allow pedestrians a seven-second head start. When the weather gets warmer, the city’s key commercial areas are either closed to cars entirely or designated as “slow streets” with reduced traffic and speeds.

“While we’ve made significant progress in the last three years, with no pedestrian fatalities and fewer pedestrian injuries, we’re working to make our streets even safer in the years ahead,” Mayor Bhalla said. “With the Vision Zero Action Plan in place, we’ll be able to take even more concrete steps toward our goal of ending all traffic-related deaths and injuries by 2030, which is one of the most ambitious Vision Zero goals in the country.”

As a result of these measures being adopted around the country, entire communities are becoming safer. Insurers may also be able to pass on the cost savings from lower accident rates to consumers, as they did during the epidemic. The federal government of the United States has now announced its own version of Vision Zero. Late in January, federal transportation officials gave a plan to reduce the tens of thousands of road deaths that happen every year.

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