October 6, 2022

Vision Zero annual report shows 2021 traffic fatalities remain high

PHILADELPHIA – On Thursday, October 6th, the City of Philadelphia released its annual Vision Zero report that shows that Philadelphia ended 2021 with 121 traffic fatalities. This figure is less than 2020 but still almost 40 more deaths than in 2019. 

Although Philadelphia “is actively working to reduce traffic speeds, design and build safe roads, and encouraging safe and healthy modes of transportation like walking, biking, and transit,” the Bicycle Coalition’s position that Philadelphia still needs much more funding and staff capacity to begin to reach its Vision Zero goals. 

Crash not Accident:

In order to make our roads safer we need engineering, automated enforcement and education. We are proud to report that after years of advocacy by the Bicycle Coalition and Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Police Accident Investigation Division will no longer have “accident” in the name. The Police department will release the official new name next year.

Philadelphia FY 23 Budget: 

There is good news for Vision Zero this fiscal year.  In the revised Fiscal Year 2023 Budget, the Vision Zero program will have $23 Million in capital funds to work with, the highest ever since the program’s inception in 2018.  This is excellent news for Vision Zero PHL and will position the oTIS/Streets Department to plan and build new infrastructure and programming to eliminate traffic deaths. While it’s not clear yet how this funding will be expended, some possible new projects that these funds could support are additional Neighborhood Slow Zones, more speed cushions or different kinds of separators to protect bike lanes.  

Vision Zero Annual Report Findings: 

Philadelphia is not the only major city that saw a spike in traffic fatalities due to COVID-19 but contrary to other cities, Philadelphia’s rate of traffic fatalities remains high compared to peer cities. More importantly, the per capita traffic death rate reported in this 2022 year report shows an increase than the rate reported in previous years.

Graph from the 2022 Vision Zero Annual Report

Graph from http://visionzerophl.com/about (2018)

Traffic violence doesn’t impact all communities equally. Black Philadelphians represent 38% of the city’s population and an average of 47% of total traffic deaths. From 2016 to 2020, an average of 47 Black Philadelphians were killed in traffic crashes each year. In 2021, 74 Black Philadelphians were killed in traffic crashes.

Though we have a long way to go as a city to reduce traffic deaths; crashes and traffic deaths are down along Roosevelt Boulevard, the most dangerous road in Philadelphia. In June 2020, Automated Speed Cameras were deployed along the boulevard and so far the city has seen a 93% drop in speeding violations equalling 49% fewer traffic deaths compared to other major roads during the same time period. 

According to the current trend, Vision Zero PHL is not where it should be. In order to eliminate traffic fatalities, Philadelphia needs to invest more in this program. We will be calling on the next mayor to allocate more funds and staff capacity in order to save lives. 

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