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Salt Lake City joins nationwide campaign to eliminate traffic-related deaths, injuries

Posted at 5:37 PM, Jan 11, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City is the first community in Utah to sign onto the ‘Vision Zero Network,’ a nationwide campaign to eliminate traffic-related deaths and injuries.

Mayor Erin Mendenhall signed a proclamation Wednesday morning, saying it’s a necessary step after the city saw 26 traffic-related deaths this past year.

“We need to do everything we can to make sure that our roads are safer,” said Police Chief Mike Brown, “Our infrastructure here in Salt Lake City is quite unique. To eliminate all traffic deaths in our city, we need to be honest. Many of the roads in our city are not as pedestrian-friendly as they can be.”

Mendenhall said it’s the first step in making a plan to reduce deaths on the streets.

“That kicks off a series of milestone actions for us that include a creation of a strategic plan, community engagement, and an ongoing task force to help develop the policies that are needed and the changes that are needed to generate whatever change we can to improve safety on our streets,” said Mendenhall.

She said this means officials and leaders will look beyond national highway data, and instead also at more specific issues and ways to address them on Salt Lake City roads.

“It's a much more holistic way of looking at street design. Because truly right now, the only thing we’re looking at. The only thing is car volume, car speed,” said Benjamin Wood, “You know, if you had a thousand pedestrians on the street, it’s like they don’t even exist as far as the plans are concerned.”

Benjamin Wood is a volunteer board member of Sweet Streets Salt Lake, a pedestrian safety advocacy group. He said the city joining the campaign is a step in the right direction to improving safety for people on the roads.

“Start at parks, start at schools, start at intersections, look at roads that have too many lanes that don’t need that many lanes. If we start there, then we can really take a bite out of traffic fatality, which has just gotten out of hand. I mean I think everyone can accept that. And there are solutions. This is a problem that can be fixed,” said Wood.

He said he hopes to see policy change that can help the unique issues and infrastructures on Utah roads, and eventually hopes the entire state will join the Vision Zero Network campaign.