The idea of Vision Zero started in Sweden, but has since been adopted worldwide. Here in the United States, cities like San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Boston, Washington DC, San Antonio, San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Mateo and Fremont are all currently undertaking major traffic safety initiatives inspired by the original Vision Zero effort.
The idea is simple: no loss of life is acceptable from traffic collisions. According to the Vision Zero website, “The Vision Zero approach has proven highly successful. It is based on the simple fact that we are human and make mistakes. The road system needs to keep us moving, but it must also be designed to protect us at every turn.”
In San Francisco, civic leaders are working to reach zero traffic-related deaths though a robust education program. The visionzerosf.org website notes that speed is the leading cause of death and severe injury in San Francisco. One of their most important recent campaigns has been the Safe Speeds SF campaign, which aims to inform people that reducing driving speed reduces deaths, highlighting stunning facts like these:
Driving just 5 mph over the limit is twice as likely to kill someone; you think you can stop in time, but you can’t.
Speed is responsible for 10 times the number of pedestrian injuries in San Francisco as driving under the influence; people need to know how dangerous every mile over the limit is.
Here in Ukiah, we also deal with speeders. The good news is that we have a group called Go Slow Ukiah dedicated to changing the behavior of Ukiah speeders. Go Slow Ukiah encourages people to consider and share ideas about how to reduce traffic speeds locally. Group members want to decrease the incidence of cars speeding through neighborhood streets to make neighborhoods safer and more inviting. According to their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/goslowukiah), Go Slow Ukiah wants people to feel relaxed in their front yards and comfortable allowing their kids to play in the street, or to walk and bike to school.
Most importantly, Go Slow Ukiah is working hard to change the culture of unsafe driving in our community. If you haven’t already, visit the Go-Slow Ukiah Facebook page and click on “Like” to support them. They have fantastic information on driver safety, bike and pedestrian safety, and other safety tips to make Ukiah safer. If you’re looking for resources to share with your teen or young adult driver, the Go Slow Ukiah Facebook page offers a great video about how driving too fast impacts safety.
As I have mentioned in past columns, we here at the Ukiah Police Department have renewed our efforts to reduce speed in Ukiah. During the last few years, I have encouraged our officers to spend additional time on speed enforcement whenever they can. We have purchased two new speed advisory trailers to inform drivers of their speed (the flashing electronic signs that tell you how fast you’re going as you drive by), and we recently began using a new speed survey tool to find out when and where the worst driving is occurring, so our officers can direct their enforcement efforts there.
I am happy to report that the Go Slow Ukiah efforts and our work at UPD are making a difference.
We know this because we’ve had three years in a row with zero fatality accidents within Ukiah’s city limits. Also, the number of accidents involving bikes and pedestrians in 2017 was lower than in 2016. Finally, although we are still crunching our 2017 data, it appears that our overall accident rate in Ukiah is lower than it has been during the last few years.
Let’s keep this good trend going. Please, slow down, Ukiah! Let’s continue to make our community a safe place to drive.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.