More people were killed in traffic collisions on the streets of Los Angeles in 2023 than were murdered. The city pledged in 2015 to end driving and pedestrian deaths before 2025, and after nine years of doing basically nothing, the city just keeps setting new fatality records year after year. An astonishing 337 Los Angelinos were killed by cars in 2023, up eight per cent over 2022’s numbers, and that’s nearly double what it was when the pledge was first announced. Despite boasting significantly fewer pedestrians than New York City, significantly more pedestrians lost their lives in Los Angeles in 2023 (176 deaths versus 114 for NYC.) Whatever the city is doing isn’t working.
To make matters worse, the first week of 2024 saw nine fatalities from car crashes, including five pedestrians. More than one per day.
LA Times writer Michael Schneider makes a very good point about this tremendous loss of life in a recent OpEd:
If a serial killer were on the loose killing more than 300 Angelenos every year, we would launch a citywide hunt to end the spree. With car crashes among the top causes of death for kids in Los Angeles, and with a decades-high number of pedestrians dying, shouldn’t we treat road safety with the same sense of urgency?
Part of this increase can be explained by a nationwide trend toward riskier driving practices in recent years. Whether it’s explained by distracted driving, increased confidence in safety systems, survivor bias, or rising nihilism, we are all responsible for our own actions on the street, up to and including the death of a passenger or pedestrian.
The city has allegedly only implemented five per cent of its original 2015 “Mobility Plan” to improve 2,500 miles of streets to be more pedestrian-and-cyclist-friendly and safer for everyone (including those in cars.) A new ballot measure, Measure HLA, coming up for vote intends to fund and complete the remaining 95 percent. The plan focuses on safer crosswalks, de-incentivising heavy traffic from cutting through neighborhoods, improving transit, protected bike lanes, better sidewalks, and increases efforts to reduce congestion.
You may not think the answer is that simple, but it truly is. If cities put actual effort and money into their plans to reduce fatalities, it ends up working. Without the political will and funding behind a so-called Vision Zero plan, they’re toothless and fail to save any lives. If Los Angeles (and any other American cities) wants to actually make a difference, it should follow the lead of places like Jersey City and Hoboken, where traffic fatalities have plummeted. Those cities don’t have a vision of zero, they actually achieved zero.
We, as humans, should make strides toward killing fewer other humans. Just a thought.
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