First Full Year Of L.A.'s Vision Zero Plan Saw Traffic Deaths Rise 43 Percent

The first full year of Mayor Eric Garcetti's Vision Zero, an executive order aimed at reducing traffic fatalities in Los Angeles, has seen a 43% rise in such deaths. According to the Los Angeles Times, 2016 saw 260 people killed in traffic accidents in L.A. What's more, 2017 is continuing the trend, with a 22% increase in traffic deaths over the same period in 2016.

"Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for children in LA County, and Los Angeles experienced a 40 percent increase in traffic deaths in 2016," Seleta Reynolds, General Manager of LADOT, noted in a January press release. "Each and every one is preventable - not a natural outcome of our transportation system. This action plan is a roadmap that requires our full participation and partnership with every Angeleno to keep us all safe."

According to the Times, the LAPD says that pedestrian fatalities have experienced a surge. While pedestrian collisions rose three percent in 2016 over 2015, pedestrian fatalities rose 58 percent. Furthermore, a study by the Vision Zero Task Force released in 2016 found that two-thirds of pedestrian traffic deaths occurred on just six percent of the city’s streets— dubbed High Injury Networks.

“The best tool to reduce the severity of those crashes is for everybody to slow down,” Reynolds said. “You have to remake how the street functions.”

Reynolds suggests the rise in fatalities may be, among other things, the result of a stronger economy and cheaper gas prices, leading to more cars on the road. Also, the city has seen a rise in pedestrian and cyclist traffic in recent years.

Nationwide, motor vehicle deaths rose six percent over 2015, which itself rose seven percent over 2014, notes the National Safety Council.

"The trend is clear: After years of progress, highway deaths are heading in the wrong direction," Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, said, according to CNN. "The good news is we know what works to save lives—high visibility enforcement of strong traffic laws coupled with public education and awareness."

"Angelenos’ safety is Mayor Garcetti’s number-one priority, and he is committed to fixing our roads, including better street design, more rigorous traffic enforcement, and public education initiatives to reach the goals of Vision Zero," George Kivork, press secretary for the mayor, told LAist. "The City is leading with these local actions as traffic fatalities have unfortunately increased nationwide. In Los Angeles, we can no longer accept traffic collisions as the cost of moving around the city, and the Mayor will continue providing direction to City departments so that we can minimize the risk for people who walk, bike and drive.”