Let’s Get Traffic Deaths to Zero

24 Apr


In the midst of getting ready for all the fun parts of Bike Month (get ready for a lot of posts!), it’s also important to focus on the safety part.

Bike Walk RVA is asking you to sign on to the Vision Zero pledge.  It asks you to commit to doing you part to bring traffic deaths of all kinds to zero.  Sound too ambitious?  It’s possible, but only if we see that traffic deaths are preventable and not acceptable.  If over 40,000 people died in some other way in a year, we’d probably be freaked out and doing all kinds of things to change that.  But somehow we see traffic deaths as just “accidents” that we can’t do anything about.  (See this recent post from VA Bicycling Federation for more about Vision Zero).

Even worse, the number of deaths has jumped over the last two years.  Traffic deaths involving a motor vehicle in 2016 were 6% higher than the previous year.  That year was the first year since 2007 that more than 40,000 people had died in crashes.  According to a New York Times article, experts see increased distraction by smart phones as a significant factor, but also speed and other familiar factors, along with more driving overall.  Police are generally pretty lax about enforcing speed and other traffic laws these days, and lawmakers don’t expect to score points by restricting how people drive.

We can do something.  Part of it is changing road design and speed limits.  But for each of us it also means driving slower when in a car.  It means yielding to pedestrians when you’re in a car or on a bike.  It means being visible when you’re walking or biking.  It means resisting being distracted by your technology while doing any of these things.  It means shifting into an “I’m part of a community on the road” mentality and away from “I need to get where I need to go” mindset.  Lives are at stake, and it could be yours or the life of someone close to you.




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