A vision for safer streets

In 2013, there were 10,310 police-reported collisions in Seattle. 155 people were seriously injured and 23 were killed. This is unacceptable.
Seattle is consistently recognized as one of the safest cities in the country. Over the past decade, we’ve seen a 30 percent decline in traffic fatalities, even as our population grows. 
Despite this fact, traffic collisions are a leading cause of death for Seattle residents age 5-24. Older adults are also disproportionately affected, and as our population ages, this trend could grow. In 2013, there were 10,310 police-reported collisions in Seattle. 155 people were seriously injured and 23 were killed. 
This is unacceptable. 
We can do better. At the core of the worldwide Vision Zero movement is the belief that death and injury on city streets is preventable. For the most part, these aren’t “accidents.” Collisions are often the result of poor behaviors and unforgiving roadway designs. So we must approach the problem from multiple angles – street designs that emphasize safety, predictability, and the potential for human error, coupled with targeted education and data-driven enforcement.

Family and friends gather at a memorial walk honoring 68-year old Leo Almanzor, who was struck by a car and killed in a hit and run collision as he walked to work on November 22, 2014. Photo credit: Cathy Tuttle.

Why Now?

In Seattle, nearly 30 collisions occur on our streets every day.
People walking and biking are involved in collisions daily. Each year, more than 150 people sustain life-changing serious injuries and approximately 20 people die on our streets. People over age 50 are particularly vulnerable and have made up 70 percent of pedestrian fatalities in the last three years.
While Seattle is consistently recognized as a safe city, it’s time to do more to prevent crashes.
Seattle considers safety for people walking and biking a top priority since the likelihood of injury is nearly 100 percent if they are hit. And it’s important to note that safety projects benefit all travelers – people driving, biking, and walking. Through context sensitive engineering and thoughtful enforcement patrols, we will redesign our streets to reduce risk and improve conditions for everyone.
Vision Zero provides an opportunity to integrate our safety efforts by combining the street design recommendations of our Pedestrian, Bicycle, Transit, and Freight Master Plans with targeted enforcement patrols and educational outreach to address behavioral issues.
Now is the time to coordinate our safety efforts and commit to a goal of zero fatalities by 2030.
Seattle is the fastest growing major city in the country. Even as population increases, collisions continue to decrease.
Fatalities and serious injuries are trending in the right direction, but still far too many lives are changed in traffic incidents.
Seattle is one of the safest cities in the US, with a traffic fatality rate rivaling Sweden’s (the birthplace of Vision Zero). Still, we can do more to prevent death and injury on our streets.
In 2013, more than 150 people suffered potentially life-changing injuries in collisions. 23 people were killed.
Unfortunately, people of all ages are involved in collisions as pedestrians. More often than not, the youngest and oldest are most impacted. It’s time to retool our streets with an emphasis on improving safety for all ages and abilities.

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