Linda Bailey, Executive Director of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) issued the following statement in response to an estimate of traffic deaths by the National Safety Council.
As reported by the National Safety Council today, an estimated 40,200 people died on U.S. streets and highways in 2016, an alarming statistic that underscores the disproportionately high numbers of people who have died on U.S. streets every year for decades. In cities, we know where these crashes are more likely to occur: on arterial streets designed to allow cars to go fast. Speed turns crashes into fatalities. Someone hit by a car going 50 mph has a 75% chance of being killed. At 20 mph, that same person would have a 93% chance of surviving.
As cities across the country have shown again and again, the best way to ensure that speeds are compatible with city life is by redesigning streets to better, safer standards, and by enforcing speed limits with automated technology. Too often, outdated state and federal policies incentivize the opposite approach: creating wide spaces for fast-moving vehicles, ignoring people walking, biking, and crossing our streets.
Humans are distractible. People will make mistakes, and some crashes are inevitable. Safer street designs can ensure that human errors do not result in needless deaths.
Addressing our epidemic of traffic fatalities will require a systems-level approach to safe design, rather than a focus on individual behavior. The Vision Zero Network’s recent report, “Moving from Vision to Action” documents how to achieve our shared goal of zero traffic fatalities on our streets.
February 15, 2017