SDOT Findings Show Traffic Fatalities Continue To Plague Seattle

SEATTLE, WA —A report presented at City Hall Tuesday by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) suggested the city’s seven-year-old initiative to eliminate traffic fatalities can use some fine-tuning.

In 2015, the city started the Vision Zero program as a citywide effort to eliminate serious injuries and fatalities from crashes.

However, in 2021, there were a total of 30 traffic deaths in Seattle, a 16-year-high. Since 2015, more than 175 people have died, and 1,200 people have been injured in traffic crashes in Seattle, according to SDOT.

In the report titled “Vision Zero: designing a safe system,” SDOT offered research and statistics about these crashes, and some suggestions about how the city can make progress on its commitment to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on Seattle streets by 2030.

“We’re going in the wrong direction. Crashes are going up instead of down, despite it being this concept for a long time,” Anna Zivarts, with Disability Rights Washington, told KING 5.

In the report, the city noted that over the last seven years, the data shows that people walking, rolling, and biking were involved in 7 percent of total crashes, but represented 61 percent of fatalities.

Since 2015, A total of 40 percent of fatal crashes occurred at intersections with signals and more than 80 percent of fatal incidents involving cyclists happened in stretches with no bike lanes.

In the fatal crashes that killed or seriously injured people since 2015, researchers discovered the average age of the victim was 52 years old, and that Black people were disproportionately impacted. Meanwhile, people experiencing homelessness made up 27 percent of fatalities in 2021.

Additionally, nearly half of all fatal crashes in the last three years have occurred in District 2, the area that includes notorious spots like Fourth Avenue and Holgate Street in SODO and Rainier Avenue and 23rd Avenue, according to KING 5.

The city offered some suggestions to improve safety, including: continuing to reduce speed limits, adding signals that give pedestrians and bicyclists a 3 to 7-second head start over cars and prioritizing safety in areas of highest need.

SDOT also wrote about the need to expand initiatives like education programs about traffic and pedestrian safety and partnerships with agencies and community organizations that help to build awareness about safety throughout the city.

In the report, SDOT suggested the path to achieving its safety goals requires a paradigm shift.

“We must move toward prioritizing the safe movement of human beings, rather than the fast movement of vehicles,” SDOT wrote in the report.

Source: Bellevue Patch