Can we make zero deaths on our roads a reality?
By Sarah Caper
Over the past year, I’ve heard this question over and over again: “Is zero deaths and serious injuries on our roadways possible?” And my response is – Absolutely! Early developers of Vision Zero have made great strides towards showing this. In Oslo, Norway, the number of road deaths went from 41 people in 1975 to one automobile death in 2019. It wasn’t easy and didn’t happen overnight, but with a serious commitment, no one needs to lose their life.
On March 10, the Forward Pinellas Board took an important step to make our roads safer – committing to zero deaths and serious injuries on our roadways by 2045 through an action plan for Safe Streets Pinellas.
“Now is the time for each of us to do our part to guarantee that everyone can travel safely. Some people say zero deaths on our roadways by 2045 is unrealistic. But if we work together towards this goal, I think we’ll be surprised by what we can achieve. And if even one life is saved, isn’t it worth it?” says Forward Pinellas Chair and City of St. Petersburg Councilmember Darden Rice.
Over the last year, Forward Pinellas studied where we’re seeing concerns on our roadways and why these crashes are happening. We’ve also held and continue to work on demonstration projects to test ways we could make our roads safer, such as exploring new technology and educational outreach. Now we’ve created an Action Plan that will guide our steps as we work toward ensuring everyone is safe on our roadways in Pinellas County.
In the coming weeks and months, Forward Pinellas will begin implementing the Safe Streets Pinellas Action Plan. This means working together with our partners and our residents to closely examine how we can support safe streets in our community, including focusing on our High Injury Network, crash hot spots and implementing engineering and non-engineering countermeasures.
“This Action Plan is an important step to change how we approach safety and planning in Pinellas County,” says Pinellas County Commissioner Dave Eggers. “No one should be killed on our roadways. No loss of life is acceptable regardless of how people travel.”
We know that our most vulnerable populations – people walking, biking and on motorcycles – are the most affected by transportation crashes. We also know that low income and minority communities are much more likely to live in a place with unsafe roads that are barriers to economic opportunity and access to other destinations. Insights like these allow us to focus our safety efforts on the most dangerous areas and develop appropriate solutions to help enhance the quality of life in these communities.
The Action Plan Includes Six Categories:
- Vision Zero Program
- Data Collection, Monitoring & Analysis
- Education Campaign
- Street & Roadway Design
Specific actions from the plan include developing an annual crash analysis, creating a media toolkit, conducting demonstration projects, prioritizing funding for safety projects in Communities of Concern, supporting legislation for safety projects, such as current Senate Bills 278 and 950, and House Bills 605 and 1643, and working with law enforcement, healthcare, and school system partners.
Forward Pinellas will begin implementing the Action Plan by seeking support from our partners and other agencies on committing to zero deaths and serious injuries by 2045 and supporting the Safe Streets Pinellas Action Plan. Forward Pinellas will also be forming the Safe Streets Pinellas Working Group later this year to ensure we are working together with our partners and the community to find equitable solutions to safety throughout Pinellas County.