In 2015, Mayor Eric Garcetti created the Vision Zero program in L.A. with the lofty goal to end all traffic fatalities in the city by 2025. To stay in line with this goal, Garcetti sought a 20% drop in traffic deaths by the end of 2017. Last year was the first full year that the program was in effect, and 260 people were killed in traffic collisions (over a 40% increase from 2015).
According to a recent report from the Los Angeles Times, the amount of traffic deaths for 2017 is already 22% higher than the amount in the same period last year. This is not looking good for the Vision Zero project, or for drivers in Southern California. This is why I wanted to write this post, to break down what the city of LA is doing to fix this problem and what we as drivers need to do to reduce traffic deaths.
What is Causing the Increase in Traffic Deaths?
Mayor Garcetti is clearly making decreasing traffic deaths a priority, so how is this happening? There are multiple reasons:
- We now have more distractions in our vehicles than ever before.
- The LAPD is issuing significantly less speeding tickets in response to a state law that prevents officers from using radar to catch speeders unless a new traffic study has been performed in that area. Speeding dramatically increases your chances of getting into a fatal crash.
- There are also less LAPD officers monitoring traffic, as the city’s crime rate has increased and they’ve been transferred to other duties.
- More and more people are choosing to walk or ride bikes.
- Vision Zero simply doesn’t have the money and resources it needs to achieve its goal. Their original plan was to overhaul the city streets in a way that would reduce driver speeds and chances of collisions, and that is no small fete.
According to the LA Times, city officials have spent over a year studying collision data to pinpoint the city’s most dangerous corridors. They’ve released a plan that targets a total of about 450 miles of roads. This year, the Transportation Department will focus on 40 of those corridors, making changes that could include the following:
- Left-turn arrows
- Higher-visibility cross-walks
- Retiming traffic signals to give pedestrians more time to cross the street
- Speed feedback signs
- Widening side-walks
- Adding new medians and left-turn lanes
- Removal of traffic lanes
Also, the passage of Measure M last year created a sales tax hike meant to deliver $120 billion for transportation projects over the next four decades.
Garcetti called this week for $16.6 million to go to the Vision Zero initiative, which the LA Times reports is a dramatic increase from the past year’s allocation of only $3 million. Still, the head of the city’s Department of Transportation said last month that it could take as much as $80 million to achieve a 20% reduction in fatal and severe crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists.
LA city officials have been facing competing demands on how to use the influx of state and local transportation money expected to come from Measure M. Other groups have been pushing for the city to repair deteriorated streets. Garcetti is currently planning to spend $34 million repairing these streets in the coming fiscal year. He believes that this strategy would simultaneously address the need for repairs and traffic safety.
Some city officials disagree with this method, arguing that changing the street design is the key to reducing traffic deaths. Councilman Mike Bonin, head of the council’s Transportation Committee, believes that filling potholes and reconstructing roads is not the strategy that will seriously reduce traffic deaths. He intends to rework the mayor’s plan to send a greater share of the funds to Vision Zero.
What Can You Do?
The fact is, the city of LA doesn’t have the money and resources to completely eradicate all traffic deaths. Still, there is something that you as a driver can do to reduce your odds of getting into a traffic collision. It’s very simple: SLOW DOWN.
“The best tool to reduce the severity of those crashes is for everybody to slow down,” Seleta Reynolds, the general manager of the L.A. Department of Transportation said. And she’s right — when you speed, you’re reducing the reaction time you have if something unexpected happens.
Another leading cause of traffic collisions is distracted driving.
So slow down and keep your eyes on the road. Don’t become a part of the traffic death statistic for 2017.
Have a serious injury and need legal advice? Contact Howard Blau.
Please Be Sure to Read the Following References:
Flegenheimer, Matt. “De Blasio Looks Toward Sweden for Road Safety.” The New York Times. 12 May 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2017 from https://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/13/nyregion/de-blasio-looks-toward-sweden-for-road-safety.html
“Making errors part of the equation.” Vision Zero. Retrieved 18 April 2017 from http://www.visionzeroinitiative.com/making-errors-part-of-the-equation/
“Mayor Garcetti Signs ‘Vision Zero’ Executive Directive to End Traffic Deaths in LA.” City of Los Angeles. 24 August 2015. Retrieved 18 April 2017 from https://www.lamayor.org/mayor-garcetti-signs-vision-zero-executive-directive-end-traffic-deaths-la
Nelson, Laura J. & Smith, Dakota. “The number of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers killed in L.A. traffic rose sharply in 2016.” Los Angeles Times. 3 April 2017. Retrieved 26 April 2017 from http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-2016-traffic-deaths-20170403-story.html
“Vision Zero: Learning from Sweden’s Successes.” Center for Active Design. Retrieved 18 April 2017 from https://centerforactivedesign.org/visionzero
Zahniser, David & Nelson, Laura J. “Garcetti proposes boosting spending to reduce L.A. traffic deaths, but advocates are pushing for more.” Los Angeles Times. 26 April 2017. Retrieved 26 April 2017 from http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-garcetti-budget-20170421-story.html