For the last several years, several European countries, including Sweden, the Netherlands, and Norway, and some states in the U.S., have adopted a program known as “Vision Zero” in an all-out effort to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries. The program includes better traffic signs and roadway design, and a reduction of speed limits on local roads and highways. Research has determined that the human tolerance for a collision with a well-designed motor vehicle is approximately 19 miles per hour. When Mayor Bill de Blasio entered office last year, he announced that New York City was going to adopt the Vision Zero program to emphasize an effort to make New York City streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. This was after a personal plea by more than 4,500 letters from members of Families for Safe Streets, an organization that was created by family members of those killed or seriously injured in pedestrian, bicycle or car crashes in New York City.
The Vision Zero program involves improving traffic signage and reducing speed limits. In New York annually, approximately 4,000 people are seriously injured and there are more than 250 fatalities in traffic crashes. For children under the age of 14, being hit by a car is the leading cause of injury-related death, and is the second leading cause of death due to injury of seniors. On average, vehicles seriously injure or kill a New Yorker every two hours. Interestingly, although Mayor de Blasio has placed a major impetus on implementing the Vision Zero program, traffic fatalities in New York City have been steadily decreasing from 701 in 1990, 381 in 2000, to 249 in 2011. Obviously, any traffic fatalities are a problem when it comes to the huge volume of pedestrians in the City of New York.
Vision Zero has also been implemented in major cities across the U.S., including Boston, where in March of 2014, personal injury attorney John Sheehan initiated the “Vision Zero Auto Accident Prevention Scholarship” to encourage young adults to recognize the benefits of safer driving, and San Francisco, where district supervisors introduced the Vision Zero plan after 25 pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities in 2013 alone.