The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that last year, from January through September, there was a marked uptick of 17% in highway deaths across the state of California. But Los Angeles non-motorist traffic fatalities jumped up even more, with a 20% surge that included 132 pedestrians.
The general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation noted that “[e]very single one of those numbers is a tragedy.” She looks to the initiatives in the Vision Zero program to stay on track and have zero traffic deaths by 2025.
Focus on danger zones
L.A. officials focused on the so-called “high-injury network streets” that are responsible for 70% of injuries and deaths to the area’s pedestrians. This 6% section of streets is characterized by their plane-like geography and a lack of crosswalks and red lights, further increasing the risk. The higher the speed of the cars, the more deadly the consequences when there’s a crash
What is the plan?
Vision Zero seeks to add more crosswalks, for one. But these will be highly visible, with beacons and signs to flash and alert motorists that bicyclists and pedestrians are nearby. They also want to expand the bicycle lanes by removing traffic lanes.
Is it working thus far?
Seven years into the project, Vision Zero has yet to hit its mark. Each year since its implementation, instead of fewer injuries and deaths from collisions, there have been more. But traffic planners cannot anticipate all of the factors that lead to these bad outcomes, according to the DOT GM, as drivers own negative behaviors behind the wheel contribute heavily to the deadly problem.
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