The Dallas City Council expressed concern about a lack of progress on a traffic safety initiative designed to reduce the high number of fatalities and injuries on the city’s roadways.
“Vision Zero,” passed by council members in 2019, is an initiative to reduce serious injuries and deaths. According to the Dallas City Hall website, the goal of “Vision Zero” is to “[e]liminate all traffic-related deaths and reach a 50% reduction in severe injuries from crashes by 2030.”
The plan focuses on parts of town where accidents are most likely to occur and recommends countermeasures drivers can take to increase safety.
Although the initial “Vision Zero” goal was adopted four years ago, limited progress has been made on the 40 items outlined in the action plan, which was approved in 2022.
A progress report obtained by NBC 5 Investigates found that just nine of the action items have been completed. Some 24 others are currently in progress. Seven action items have yet to be initiated, leading some council members to wonder why more has not been done to advance the plan.
“If the goal is to complete this by the end of the year, I’m wondering why we are where we are,” said Council Member Jaime Resendez (District 5) on Tuesday, per NBC 5.
Council Member Jaynie Schultz (District 11) agreed and said the project has taken “way too much time.”
“I think each plan needs its champions. And right now, we have the right people around the horseshoe who are really going to push this forward,” she said, per NBC 5.
The Vision Zero plan has reportedly proven effective in other cities similar in size to Dallas. Edmonton, in Alberta, Canada, implemented the plan and has seen significantly fewer traffic deaths as a result.
Rupesh Patel, manager of Safe Mobility for the City of Edmonton, said the city has taken steps such as extending curbs to reduce the amount of road available to drivers.
“The narrowing of the road by this curb extension just makes people a little bit more subconscious or conscious about [it]; OK, I better slow down because there’s something going on here,” he said to NBC 5.
Another step the city took was to paint law enforcement vehicles yellow to make drivers more aware of their presence.
“That’s why our vehicles are bright yellow, right? We’re not hiding behind the trees, we’re out in the open. People can see us because we want them to slow down,” said Fran Mawson-Dalmer, Edmonton’s traffic safety coordinator, per NBC 5.
The city claimed that such changes have led to a 50% decrease in traffic deaths over a six-year period, with just 14 reported last year. Dallas, by comparison, had 228 traffic deaths last year.
Over the last five years, Dallas has become one of the most dangerous major cities to drive in. A previous study by NBC 5 Investigates found that Dallas had about 15 traffic deaths for every 100,000 people, which is the highest rate among the 10 largest cities in the United States over that period. In less than five years, more than 4,300 traffic deaths have been reported, along with another 20,000 serious injuries.
While plans like Vision Zero have prompted concerns that traffic could become congested, officials in Edmonton have said that residents realized how effective the plan was once it was put into action.
“Almost everyone has moved on and realized how much better and how much safer [it has] made our local communities,” said Edmonton City Council Member Andrew Knack, per NBC 5.