“The average [is] 33 deaths a year [in traffic-related incidents],” said Captain Tom Didone, Director, Traffic Division, Montgomery County Police. “That’s 33 families that are impacted, and having been one of those families in 2008 is something that you’ll never forget.”
Montgomery County officials launched an ambitious new plan to eliminate all traffic deaths in the county by 2030.
You heard correctly – bring the average annual number of 33 deaths down to zero.
“It has to be feasible, because when you think about it, what number is acceptable?” Capt. Didone said.
Last year, there were 30 fatal collisions in Montgomery County, 11 of which involved bicyclists and pedestrians.
That’s an improvement from 2015, which logged 39.
“To some degree, we made some progress, but that progress is not sufficient,” Executive Ike Leggett said.
Vision Zero is broken down into smaller increments.
“We want results by 2019,” Leggett said.
It starts with a goal of reducing severe and fatal collisions on county roads by 35 percent.
The two-year plan includes 41 action items organized into five key themes: engineering, enforcement, education and training, traffic incident management and law, policy and advocacy.
A top priority on the list is to make sure all bus stops are near crosswalks.
Other action steps include creating a more detailed map of collision hot spots and analyzing the most common crash sequences.
But to really provoke significant change in the county, Capt. Didone said there needs to be a culture change.
“[Vision Zero will be] working with education and the community to change the culture to where everybody feels that zero is acceptable,” Capt. Didone said.
The Vision Zero concept originated in Sweden in 1997.
Since then, more than two dozen jurisdictions in the U.S. adopted it.
Montgomery County is one of the first counties to put the plan into action.