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 commit to the Vision Zero Action Plan, and fast-track its recommendations.
Public officials must do more than pay lip service to the goals of the Vision Zero Action Plan—they should actively look for ways to speed along implementation and remove political, policy, and administrative bottlenecks to saving lives. In addition to low-hanging fruit like educating street users (especially drivers) about safer practices, officials should be lobbying Harrisburg to increase penalties for drivers who kill or injure pedestrians and cyclists, legalize automated enforcement in school zones and on the High Injury Network, as well as seeking increased funding for re-engineering our streets to reduce vehicle speeds, improve lines of sight, and increase safety.