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Traffic Fatalities Up Despite Vision Zero Safety Pledge

Portland traffic fatalities are up for 2016, marking an increase of almost 33% compared to this time last year. The increase occurred despite Portland City Council’s pledge of “Vision Zero”, a plan to reduce and eliminate traffic deaths nation-wide. Mayor Charlie Hales and Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick issued statements in response to the increase, noting that a rise in fatalities only further underlines the importance of achieving Vision Zero’s goal.

Despite the increase, Portland’s Bureau of Transportation believes it’s still too early to know whether this trend will continue through 2016, or may simply be carryover from last year. 2015 saw Portland’s highest number of traffic fatalities in over a decade, jumping to 37 deaths in one year, after remaining unchanged for almost a decade. But whether this trend continues or not, even one fatality is one too many.

“Our community is committed to achieving Vision Zero by eliminating deaths and serious injuries on our streets.”  After this past weekend, Mayor Hales, who also oversees the Portland Police Bureau, commented “More than half of Portland’s traffic fatalities involve DUI. This weekend’s tragedies remind us why no one should drive under the influence, and all Portlanders should follow the rules of the road, including speed limits. These personal choices directly affect neighbors and families. Make the right choice. Don’t drink and drive.”

Steve Novick, commenting on the recent deaths, stated “Any time we have a fatal or serious injury crash, it has a terrible impact on families, friends and the broader community. People may feel less safe and less comfortable traveling in their neighborhoods when they hear of these preventable tragedies. This City Council has made historic investments in traffic safety, including millions of dollars for sidewalks and safer crossings…But clearly we need to do more, and I remain firmly committed to improving transportation safety, especially in areas such as East Portland, where historically underserved communities brave some of our city’s most dangerous roadways.”

Novick is right, clearly more must be done. But what can we do to help? Vision Zero is about more than just city investment in roads and safety, it’s about all of us in the community doing our part and respecting the safety of others on the road. Remember, it only works when we all work together.

Interested in learning more about Vision Zero? Read more here.

[source: Jim Redden, Portland Tribune, 22 March 2016]

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