Between 2008 and 2012, Philadelphia witnessed 8,690 crashes involving 9,051 pedestrians. These crashes caused 376 major injuries and 158 deaths.
None of these pedestrian deaths was inevitable. Traffic collisions will always exist, to some extent, but we know how to reduce their frequency and we know how to reduce the likelihood of fatalities.
Crashes are generally a problem of poor street engineering. Three of the most common causes of car crashes - excessive speeding, distracted driving, and aggressive driving - can each be partly addressed through better street engineering.
It is time for City Council, the Streets Department, the Philadelphia Police Department, and the Mayor’s Office to take a Vision Zero approach to traffic violence. In recognizing this pervasive public health issue, these public leaders must first commit to taking ownership and responsibility moving forward. Following that critical first step, committing to an meaningful outcome-oriented Vision Zero approach requires educating street users about safety, lobbying Harrisburg to increase penalties for drivers who kill or injure pedestrians and cyclists, and reengineering our streets to reduce vehicle speeds, improve lines of sight, and increase safety.
As a first step, we are asking candidates for Mayor and City Council to support Councilwoman Cindy Bass’s push for a Vision Zero approach to traffic violence.