44 traffic deaths in 2016 — is Vision Zero working?

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — There have been 44 traffic fatalities in Portland this year — that’s 7 more than there were in 2015 — making this one of the deadliest years on record.

“This has been an awful year in terms of traffic fatalities,” John Brady with PBOT said.

What is Vision Zero?

This year has seen a 63% spike in traffic deaths since 2006, but in the decade between 2005 and 2015, there wasn’t a year that saw more than 37 people killed.

Portland Bureau of Transportation isn’t sure what made 2016 so deadly, but they are looking into all possibilities and continue work on Vision Zero — the city’s program to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2025.

“We’re seeing this rise in fatalities across the country,” Brady said. “Some people are attributing it to the fact that the economy is better and so people are driving more.”

It’s too soon to know for sure if Vision Zero is working, but the PBOT says it’s commuted to increasing safety on the roads for everyone through research, improved road technology and listening to community concerns.

Phases of Vision Zero include increased signage, better cross walks, lighting and high tech roads and intersections. The program also identifies driving behavior as a huge factor in fatal and serious injury crashes.

Interactive crash map

Speeding, drunk driving, drug use and other dangerous behaviors were to blame for 90% of deadly crashes in Portland in recently years. Only 9% were caused by environmental factors like weather.

“They aren’t accidents they are in fact crashes and they can be prevented,” Brady said.

PBOT will focus on roads that have had more crashes when they invest in improvements in the coming year. According to PBOT more than half of deadly crashes happen on 8% of streets, the “high crash network.”

The PBOT, Portland Fire and Rescue and Portland Police will speak Friday about their plans for Vision Zero in 2017. The conference will also include a message about safety on New Year’s Eve.

“You want to get to zero,” Brady said. “You never give up on that goal because ultimately no death on our roads is acceptable.”

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