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Task force shares findings/recommendations to reduce traffic deaths

Mayor Jean Stothert
Posted at 12:01 PM, Sep 16, 2019

Today, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and members of the Vision Zero task force will share their findings and recommendations to reduce traffic deaths in the area.

"Vision Zero is a common sense goal we should strive for," says Stothert. "Public safety is our primary responsibility and priority. The Active Living Advisory Committee has presented an excellent recommendation and we will proceed."

The Vision Zero model comes out of Sweden and has been used in several cities around the country they say.

Vision Zero cities must meet the following four minimum criteria:

  • A clear goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and severe injuries
  • Mayor's commitment to Vision Zero
  • A Vision Zero plan or strategy is in place, or a timeline for implementation
  • Key city departments (including police, transportation and public health) are engaged

The city's plan for Vision Zero comes after months of studying area traffic conditions and deaths. It was first introduced back in October 2017.

Active Living Advisory Committee members include:

  • Tom Everson, Executive Director, Keep Kids Alive Drive 25
  • Mike Helgersen, MAPA Transportation and Data Manager
  • Andy Wessel, Douglas County Health Department, Community Health Planner
  • Pell Duvall
  • EEric Koeppe, President and CEO National Safety Council of Nebraska
  • Rob Reynolds C.A.R. Alliance for Safer Teen Driving
  • Kevin Carder City Planner (Transportation & Data), Long Range Planning Division, City of Omaha
  • Derek Miller, Long Range & Mobility Planning Manager, City of Omaha
  • Nick Gordon, Traffic Operations Engineer, Omaha Public Works
  • Ryan Wiesen, Assistant City Attorney
  • Kathy Bossman, Assistant Omaha Fire Chief
  • Sgt. Jason Menning, Omaha Police Department Traffic Division
  • Steve Scarpello, Omaha City Council Staff Assistant

Stothert's office provided the following release:

ENFORCEMENT/SAFETY

Increase enforcement during periods of highest fatal and serious injury crashes

Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) data (2010-2017) shows most fatal crashes occur between 9:00pm and 2:59am (40%). Most serious injury crashes between 3:00pm and 9:00pm (39%)

Identify priority safety corridors for safety improvements where the most harmful crashes occur. 50% of the fatal and serious injury crashes in Omaha occur on just 6% of roads

DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION

Incorporate speed reduction and other safety features as part of the Complete Streets review process

Amend the Transportation Master Plan to include priority safety corridors and review other local plans to coordinate planned investments along these corridors

Prioritize improvements to sidewalks and other active transportation facilities on corridors with high crash rates involving vulnerable users and along transit corridors

Expand scope and amount of local safety funds in the CIP for safety-related projects and improvements on priority safety corridors

LEGISLATION

Support state legislation for primary enforcement for seat belt use and distracted driving and requirement for back seat passengers to wear seat belts (LB39 & 40, introduced by Sen. Hilkemann. Transportation and Telecommunications Committee took no action in 2019)

EDUCATION/AWARENESS Improve coordination between safety campaigns, branding under "Vision Zero Omaha". Focus on impaired driving (alcohol, drugs, distracted) and vulnerable users (motorcyclists, pedestrians, bicyclists

DATA

Update crash reporting standards and co-ordination including a city-wide database and annual reporting mechanism

Disaggregate data for traffic fatalities and serious injuries by race and ethnicity to allow for better analysis and to improve the ability to address potential equity concerns

"The task force has made thoughtful, appropriate recommendations and we will evaluate each one to determine effective next steps to improve the safety of everyone who uses our roads, and ultimately reach the goals of vision zero," said Mayor Stothert.

In addition to the recommendations, the task force suggested a Vision Zero Coordinator to develop an action plan, coordinate actions between city departments, develop an implementation timeline and be the liaison with neighborhood groups, school districts, health care providers and other stakeholders. That new position is included in the 2020 budget.

"The key to reducing deaths through the Vision Zero is community involvement. This means every citizen, whether a motorist, passenger, cyclist, or pedestrian, commits to practice behaviors on and along roadways that work to prevent needless deaths and injuries," said Task Force Chairman Tom Everson. "Our personal actions complemented by creating infrastructure that works to reduce the effects of crashes, along with stepped up enforcement in high-crash corridors will go a long way towards the goal of zero deaths and serious injuries on Omaha streets."