On the heels of the worst month for traffic deaths in four years, Philadelphia officials rolled out a plan to reduce traffic deaths in the next five years — and ideally down to zero by the year 2030.
The 2025 Vision Zero action plan hinges on changing the behavior of drivers. The plan says it’ll reduce speed on Philly’s roads by installing infrastructure that encourages motorists to move more slowly.
Philadelphia Police have said that drivers killed 25% more people this year than last, including people on foot, bike, or other drivers. July saw the worst of it, with 24 Philadelphians losing their lives in traffic crashes.
Now, the city has one of the highest auto-fatality rates in the nation — soaring above New York, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco, according to Vision Zero data.
City officials say they’re approaching the next five years with urgency.
“2020 has been a difficult year for Vision Zero,” said Mike Carroll, director of the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability. “Although we know we cannot look to anyone year in isolation, our trend toward zero needs to shift down in order to reach our goal of zero by 2030.”
Carroll and other city officials released the Vision Zero remake one day after a driver allegedly hit a 69-year-old Logan resident and sped away. After a passerby called 911 to report the hit-and-run at 16th Street and Belfield Avenue, medics took the crash victim, Patricia Williams, a pedestrian, to Albert Einstein Medical Center. There, a CAT scan detected bleeding in her brain. Williams was the fifth fatal hit-and-run victim in seven days.
University of Pennsylvania city planning professor Erick Guerra, who studies regional crash data, has attributed the spike in crash deaths to increased alcohol consumption and emptier streets more conducive to speeding — both side effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
“People are drinking more during COVID so probably a high share are drunk. And people know there’s a higher consequence, so they run,” Guerra said. “The other reason is just speed…When there are less people on the road, you can go faster. And that really impacts the fatality rate.”