Vision Zero Traffic Safety Plan

Author: Angel Reyes  

Auto Accidents, In The News

The installment of the Vision Zero traffic safety plan has been an ongoing adaptation amongst major American cities. Considering the statistics, will this implementation in Dallas help alleviate traffic tragedies?

According to the Vision Zero Network, American roadways claim 40,000 lives every year and the city of Dallas has contributed greatly to that statistic. In hopes of creating safer roadways, Dallas is moving forward with the adoption of the Vision Zero Network.

Dallas’ roadways are among the most unsafe compared to other cities in America due to its staggering 2017 motor vehicle death toll. According to the Dallas Observer, 50% of the fatalities that happen on Dallas roads, happen on only 8% of their high ways. The Observer also stated that two people on average are killed as a result of car accidents in Dallas every week.

With these rising numbers, it’s clear why city officials are trying to do anything they can to put a stop to it. The Vision Zero plan is proposing to end fatalities amongst pedestrians, drivers, and bicyclists in all American adopted cities by 2030.

For instance, in the city of Portland, Oregon, they’re going on their third year of the Vision Zero adoption action plan. Consequently, they’ve seen their traffic deaths drop by 25% from 2017. However, this cannot be considered as a definitive trend quite yet as year over year statistics have yet to be seen.

What is Vision Zero?

Vision Zero is an internationally credited road safety initiative that is being installed in more than 20 cities around the United States. They have a very specific goal for all of their cities: Be death and injury-free by 2030. “High crash networks” are the target of the impending safety regulations.

Vision Zero points the nose of their ship in the philosophical direction of “car accidents are preventable, not inevitable.” Someone made a mistake and is at fault. They want to eliminate deaths and injuries, not car accidents. Human error will strike. However, by containing human error to smaller and less violent instances, lessens the probability of death or injuries.

Vision Zero focusses on DFW pedestrian deaths first. In theory, changing infrastructure surrounding public walkways would make them safer. Making crosswalks and sidewalks wider, while also raising the crosswalk to make the pedestrian more prominent to motorists. This also provides a speed bump.

The main idea of car accident limitations is changing speed limit signs. Lowering speed limits in the “High Crash Network” areas to tame some of the violent accidents that occur at a high rate of speed.

The final step is to involve the community. Focussing on memorials as reminders to individuals to drive safely on the roads. Displaying roadside memorials is a common thing for many fatal car accidents. However, city officials have never enforced the policy before.

Previously Implemented Plans

With Portland being a fairly proactive city when it comes to any sort of social problem, it’s not surprising they were one of the trailblazers for this plan in America. Being one of the cities with the most data collected, the city has come under the microscope.

Portland adopted the program in 2016. Consequently, their traffic deaths in 2018 dropped down to 34 deaths on public roads according to their city traffic safety website. Having dropped from the previous year’s death toll of 43.

Saying this is a trend is premature. Hypothetically speaking, if Dallas cut their death toll down 25%, we would still see more than double the deaths Portland saw in 2018. Dallas has a problem. A problem that needs to be met with immediate solutions. Both of these cities have the same goal date for being death and injury-free.

What Are the Odds of This Working For Dallas?

It’s difficult to say how this would work in the North Texas metroplex. Data from other cities have been inconclusive. There is not a 100% success rate for the program. It’s closer to 50/50. Norway has adopted this program since 1999 and has yet to see any significant short term results.

In foresight, most of the officials that have committed to this program will be out of office by the time the goal deadline comes. It’s difficult to keep someone accountable in that sense. The laws and changes can continue, but how can we be sure it’s truly coming from this initiative?

Other external factors that could contribute to this initiative. New technology is the biggest culprit. Autonomous cars are becoming more prevalent. These vehicles are less likely to be involved in an accident due to a lack of human operation. Manufacturers are engineering more safety features to save the driver and passengers from injuries and fatalities.

Are There Different Implementations That Could be Better?

Some have argued that giving tax breaks for people buying autonomous cars, or cars that have higher graded safety features would work. Developing laws that force insurance carriers to lower rates every year the driver is accident-free.

Instead of making small changes, make more incentivizing adaptations. Reward people for being safer rather than punish them for being unsafe. People are more likely to respond to a safe initiative if it benefits them rather than restricting them with no immediate benefit.

Lowering speed limits that most people don’t follow anyways, distracting drivers with fatal accident memorials, and causing people to slam on their brakes, risking getting rear-ended are all considered high-risk behaviors. However, all avenues must be tried in attempts to solve these problems.

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