Two members of the United States House of Representatives have embarked on a campaign which, if successful, could potentially end transportation-related fatalities. Congressmen Earl Blumenauer and Vern Buchanan have introduced H.R. 1274, the Vision Zero Act of 2015, which is a grant program to implement programs aiming to prevent all fatalities related in one way or another to transportation.
The main force behind this program is Rep. Earl Blumeanauer, the founder of the Congressional Bike Caucus, and he has got the support of Vern Buchanan, a man who is well-known in the auto industry for his chain of car dealerships, and is therefore an appropriate choice to back the Vision Zero Act.
Now, Jon Stewart and Bill Maher might be tempted to poke fun at this program on their TV shows merely because it was introduced by Republican representatives. But the truth is, Vision Zero Act is a noble effort to develop and implement comprehensive safety programs. It says no to the 33,000 annual traffic-related deaths which are deemed “unfortunate but inevitable.” It is ambitious, for sure, but you have to start somewhere. The $30 million annual budget allocated for the program may not be enough, but if the plans prove effective, more money can be raised.
Vision Zero Act Grant Program: “$5 million a year is set aside for planning grants to help communities draft the Vision Zero plan required for implementation funding. $25 million a year will be awarded to five communities for implementation of a written and officially adopted Vision Zero plan. 25% of the annual funding must be awarded to eligible entities with a population of 200,000 people or fewer.”
The way they are going about accomplishing this daunting task is by “community action safety plans,” granting money to communities developing direct and indirect programs to lower and eventually eliminate all transportation-related fatalities, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, motorists and passengers. One solution they are talking about is creating safe, walkable communities, in order to access every day needs and destination for every person in the community. That is why they have the support of the League of American Bicyclists and America Walks.
Stronger laws are also considered as an effective method of driving down the fatalities. Vision Zero Act has the support of American Automobile Association or AAA, whose Traffic Safety Culture index “indicate that more than five in six drivers support their state adopting a vision to reduce the number of people killed in crashes to zero.”
Vision Zero Act of 2015 might be a small step in improving road safety in America, but it is definitely a step in the right direction. With proper support and implementation it can become a model for the world.