Can you imagine an American city experiencing no traffic deaths in three years? It happened in Hoboken, New Jersey, a city about the size of Utica, NY. How did a city of 54,000 people pull this off? The mayor, Ravi Bhalla, credits the city’s Vision Zero program.
So what’s Vision Zero? From the Vision Zero Network, “Vision Zero is a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all.”
Vision Zero stems from the Department of Transportation’s initiative to reduce traffic fatalities on America’s roadways. Especially in light of the increased deaths reported during the pandemic. All when people were actually driving less.
We talked about this in previous posts, Traffic is Down Yet Accident Death Rates Are Up? And, more recently, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg on Traffic Fatalities in the U.S.
For us, the interesting thing about this new initiative is its perspective. It completely counters our traditional approach to traffic safety.
Instead of looking at traffic deaths as inevitable, Vision Zero considers traffic deaths preventable. Traffic safety rules currently demand perfect human behavior. Vision Zero integrates human failing into the equation. Tradition demands that, in general, all collisions should be prevented. The new way is to be specific in preventing fatal and severe collisions.
This new approach emphasizes systems rather than individual responsibility. And maybe the most appealing after saving lives…Vision Zero is not expensive.
How Hoboken Cut Traffic Fatalities to Zero
The mayor of Hoboken installed a community wide plan. The city extended its bike lane network 38 per cent. It put in curb extensions, marked wider crosswalks, and timed traffic signals to give pedestrians a seven-second head start.
During warmer weather the city closes major commercial areas to cars. Or assigned what they called “slow streets” with decreased traffic and speeds.
Along the same lines in another city, Portland, Oregon has installed frequent safe crossings and street lighting. It has also fostered a general acceptance of slower speeds.
Vision Zero Strategies
The key to success boils down to one thing. A community who wants to succeed at reducing traffic deaths must think differently. It must throw out traditional approaches and implement systemic changes.
This is especially difficult because you’re dealing with such a diverse group of stakeholders. Transportation professionals, policymakers, public health officials, and community members all have to get on board so that substantive change is possible.
Real data must be used to make decisions, not hearsay or “We’ve always done it this way.” And, speed must be managed, which may be upsetting to drivers.
Safe Driving is Important to Us at Scalzo, Zogby & Wittig, Inc.
Traffic deaths are the toughest claims for us to handle. Obviously, we wish we didn’t have any of them. So we are excited about this ambitious national program. And that positive results are already in the books.
Speaking of results, are you a cautious driver? Then give us a call to quote your car insurance. We have been saving safe drivers money. We’ll be sure you get the protection you need and save even more by bundling your car and home insurance. Give us a call at 315.792.0000.
So drive slow and drive safe.
Until next time,
Your SZW Team
SZW Insurance is your Utica area Trusted Choice™ independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000. Or request a quote here.