Remembering Denver’s Traffic Victims

by Jill Locantore on November 12, 2015

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World Day of Remembrance is Sunday, November 15

Each year, more than 33,000 people – the population of a small city – die on America’s roads. In Denver, so far this year 49 people have died as a result of traffic crashes. Nearly a third of these fatalities – 15 people – were pedestrians.

Since 2005, the United Nations has designated November 15 as World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Victims, a global event that honors the millions who have needlessly suffered from traffic violence. Increasingly, cities across the world are not only remembering those who have died, but also declaring that no loss of life is acceptable.

From Seattle to New York City, San Diego to Washington, D.C. a number of leading U.S. cities have committed to Vision Zero, and the goal of eliminating traffic fatalities.

While zero fatalities may seem like an ambitious goal, the fact is that traffic crashes are predictable, and therefore preventable.  We know that one of the major causes of traffic fatalities is speed, and roads that are designed to encourage speeding.  A person hit by a car at 20 mph has a 9 in 10 chance of surviving. At 40 mph, the chance of survival drops to 1 in 10.

We also know that pedestrian fatalities do not happen randomly throughout the city, but are heavily concentrated on a few key streets.

Fixing the known dangerous locations where people are being injured and killed, combined with targeted enforcement of speeding and red light running, can save lives.  But do Denver’s leaders have the political will to implement these changes?

Encouragingly, Mayor Hancock’s 2016 budget allocates $350,000 for Vision Zero, specifically to create a “plan and a public safety campaign to educate the community about how to travel safely through the transportation network in all modes to reduce transportation related crashes resulting in serious bodily injury or death.”

To truly embrace Vision Zero, however, the City must go well beyond “education.” Only by redesigning our thoroughfares to be safe places for people will we make real progress toward the goal of zero deaths.  We owe it to the people who have already been needlessly killed on Denver’s dangerous roads.

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