A surge in motor vehicle accident deaths has prompted many cities in California and around the country to launch Vision Zero campaigns. These initiatives use public funds to install bicycle lanes, improve pedestrian infrastructure and redesign dangerous intersections, and they have the lofty goal of eliminating road deaths entirely within a few decades. Los Angeles launched its Vision Zero program in 2015, but the steps taken so far seem to have done little to improve road safety.
Deaths and injuries soar in 2021
According to data gathered by the Los Angeles Police Department, traffic accident fatalities rose by 21% in 2021 and serious injuries increased by 30%. The city’s most vulnerable road users paid a particularly heavy price. Pedestrian deaths in the city rose by a worrying 35% in 2021, and the number of cyclists seriously injured in car accidents increased by 24%. Politicians and experts have blamed the rise in deaths on factors ranging from distracting automobile infotainment systems to illegal street racing.
An expensive problem
The city’s efforts to reduce road deaths may be meeting with little success because officials lack the funds they need. The money allocated to Vision Zero programs in Los Angeles has risen from $26 million to $61 million in recent years, but officials say they need much more. In 2017, a senior Department of Transportation official said reducing bicycle and pedestrian accidents by just 20% would cost up to $80 million alone.
We should all be prepared to make small sacrifices in the fight against traffic deaths because safe roads make communities better. Reducing speed limits and creating bicycle lanes prevents accidents and saves lives, but efforts to implement these and other measures are usually met with fierce residence from local residents worried about longer commute times. As long as the public remains stubbornly opposed to even minor inconveniences, road deaths are likely to remain high.