Jun 29, 2023 - News

NWA cities signing on to "Vision Zero” plan to cut traffic accidents

Illustration of a long, winding road with red health crosses painted down the middle as lane dividers

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Community leaders say the increasing number of people injured and killed on NWA roads can be stemmed, and they have a plan to help do just that.

Driving the news: Cities in NWA are starting to get on board with the Vision Zero plan spearheaded by the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commision. That buy-in is needed to apply for federal funding.

Rogers and Bentonville city councils approved resolutions on Tuesday to support the plan; Fayetteville plans to take a vote next week.

The big picture: Vision Zero assumes people will make mistakes, looks at why and where crashes are happening and focuses on how roadways can be designed to reduce accidents, Jared Draper of North Carolina-based Toole Design told Axios. Draper was a consultant on the plan.

By the numbers: From 2017 to 2021, 1,369 people were killed or seriously injured in crashes in NWA — more than five people a week, according to the plan. The number of crashes has stayed about the same (except in 2020, when COVID-19 reduced traffic), but fatalities are on the rise.

What they're saying: Giving pedestrians safe places to walk and cross streets, separating bike lanes so drivers clearly see them and designing roads in a way that forces drivers to slow down are some examples of how infrastructure can be made safer, Draper said.

Details: Vision Zero includes 75 action items that will take the cooperation of many entities like the Arkansas Department of Transportation, the regional planning commission and police departments. Some of them are:

  • Advocating for changes to state law to expand the automated traffic enforcement.
  • Conducting analysis of crashes on curves and hills in the region.
  • Implementing shared path or separated/raised/protected facilities for bicycle routes on roadways with speed limits above 35 miles per hour.
  • Conducting roadway safety audits after every fatality.
  • Tightening turning radii and include truck aprons on freight routes.

Go deeper: Read the plan.


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