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Recent traffic fatalities highlight Seattle’s program to end traffic deaths

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(The Center Square) – Three fatal collisions that occurred in Seattle over the past weekend has the Seattle Department of Transportation emphasizing its program to reduce traffic deaths in the city.

The Vision Zero program supports implementation of safety elements by redesigning streets to emphasize safety, predictability, multimodal mobility and potential for accommodating human error. The program is aiming to end traffic deaths and injuries in Seattle by 2030.

According to the transportation department, the Vision Zero program is currently developing a three-year action plan to implement safety improvements citywide by the end of this year. So far this year, the department has implemented leading pedestrian intervals for crosswalks at 60 locations, installed no turn on red restrictions at 48 intersections, completed several safety improvements along the MLK Jr. Way corridor, and responded to a statement of legislative intent to explore the expansion of an automated safety camera enforcement program.

The three incidents that occurred over the past weekend include a collision involving a sedan and King County Metro bus at the intersection of 5th Avenue and Battery Street that killed a pedestrian outside; a head on collision in West Seattle that had a 23-year-old female driver succumb to her injuries; and another incident on the 1700 Block of 4th Ave S. where there was a pedestrian fatality caused by a motorist driving under the influence.

“The three fatal collisions this past weekend highlight the importance of the Vision Zero goal,” Seattle Department of Transportation Senior Strategic Communications & Policy Manager Caryn Walline said to The Center Square in an email. “We’ll continue to invest in proven systemic safety treatments such as [leading pedestrian intervals] and [no turn on red signs], as well as explore and incorporate additional proactive safety strategies as the action plan is developed and implemented.”

The 2023 Serious and Fatal Collision report data now shows 212 traffic injuries, which surpasses the 180 reported through October 2022. The highest number of serious injuries in the Seattle Department of Transportation’s database was 241 in 2006. At least one of the three collisions this past weekend also resulted in multiple injuries. However, the number and nature of those injuries cannot be confirmed at this time.

There have been 25 traffic deaths in Seattle so far this year following the past weekend.

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell’s 2024 Proposed Budget Update includes $6.6 million in new appropriations for the Vision Zero program. Walline said funding in the Vision Zero program is used to review high collision locations and implement safety improvements. The program also contributes to capital projects within the transportation department such as transit improvements, protected bike lanes, roadway reconfiguration.

The Seattle Department of Transportation also has a new program called “Safe Streets and Roads for All,” which will fund the design and construction of a variety of safety improvements such as protected bicycle lanes to address pedestrian and bicycle collisions at intersections and along corridors.

The department received a $25.7 million federal grant to help fund the safety improvements and the city will provide another $6.4 million through 2027 to complete the program. The 2024 proposed budget includes $4.4 million for the safety improvements.

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