As many Americans prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving later this month, thousands of others are planning events throughout the county and around the globe to remember those who have been lost in traffic violence that often could have been prevented. On Sunday, November 17, events — both big and small — will be held in honor of International World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.
Family members and friends of those lost in traffic crashes, as well as advocates, government and elected officials, and many others will come together at vigils, rallies, sermons, marches, and bike rides to give voice to those who have lost their lives in these preventable tragedies. (See list below) For some, this is their first year recognizing World Day of Remembrance, for others, it is the fourth time they’ve used the international event to draw attention to their local work for Vision Zero, safe mobility for all road users. More than 100 people lose their lives each day in the U.S. in traffic crashes.
“With the disturbing trends in San Francisco and nationwide regarding pedestrian deaths and injuries, it’s more important than ever to shine a light on the stories behind these numbers”. – Jodie Medeiros, Walk San Francisco
This year, recognizing the increasing urgency of the issue of traffic violence and the need for stepped-up leadership at all levels, including the national level, advocates are organizing a first-time action — End the Silence on Traffic Violence — to demand a plan from presidential candidates to stem this preventable loss of life and life-shattering experiences that affect so many of us — whether in red or blue states, urban or rural environments, young or old. (Learn more about this action below)
We have seen the Vision Zero movement grow significantly in the U.S. since it was first adopted in NYC in 2014. Today there are more than 45 communities — mostly local, some regional — in the U.S. setting goals and making a commitment to prioritize street safety for all road users. Unfortunately, even as support for Vision Zero has grown and we see progress in some cities, the situation at the national level remains dire. A recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that 2018 was the deadliest year for people walking and biking in the U.S. since 1990. Although deaths due to traffic collisions decreased overall nationally by 2.4% from 2017 to 2018, fatalities among the most vulnerable road users, those who walk and bike, increased by 3.4% and 6.3% respectively. On average, 17 pedestrians and two cyclists were killed each day in traffic crashes in 2018, according to the NY Times.
“In Massachusetts, about a third of people who were killed in traffic crashes in 2018 were vulnerable road users — people walking, biking, or riding motorcycles — and 28% of fatalities from car crashes in 2017 were from speeding-related crashes. Proven interventions at the city and the state level, from a hands-free bill to the implementation of speed cameras and truck side guards, will help save countless lives”. – Louisa Gag, LivableStreets Alliance
The reality is that we know how to improve safety on our streets, sidewalks, and bikeways. We have the tools to do so. Communities must increase the urgency and action to make systematic changes to our policies and infrastructure and priorities to ensure safe mobility.
Two key principles to address traffic violence and advance Vision Zero goals are:
- Prioritize safety over speed – designing roadways for safe speeds (versus status quo behavior), lowering speed limits, and using automated safety enforcement in an equitable, thoughtful way, and
- Build (and re-build) Complete Streets – Designing roads for all users, especially those walking and biking and the very young and the very aged, who are most vulnerable, is a known way to improve safety.
We have the toolbox to save lives on our streets. What we need more of is the political will to move from the status quo where, for too long, we’ve prioritized speed over safety and convenience (or perceived convenience) over safety. Learn more about the Core Elements for Vision Zero Communities here.
Communities Speak Out Across the Country
“This event is important because it gives our community a chance to come together locally to honor those whose lives have been forever changed by traffic violence”. – Rachel Maisler, member of the DC – Families for Safe Streets Steering Committee
Around the world this Sunday, November 17 there will be events honoring those who have been lost in traffic collisions and raising awareness about the epidemic of traffic violence that is impacting our communities. Below is a list of World Day of Remembrance activities planned for 2019 throughout the U.S. (list notes city, organization lead, planned activities, and links for more details for each event).
- Alexandria, VA: Alexandria Families for Safe Streets – A Community March and speeches by Alexandria & Arlington leaders as well as crash survivors. The event will take place in the Arlandria neighborhood to raise awareness of the traffic crash victims in the Latinx community and importance of safer streets for all Alexandrians. Full event details.
- Austin and Central Texas: Central Texas Families for Safe Streets – The event will include a memorial walk, speakers, music, and a vigil. There will be an opportunity for people to bring an item that represents their loved one and paint it white as a memorial. Full event details.
- Charlotte, NC: Charlotte DOT – Display of shoes commemorating those lost in Charlotte in 2017 and 2018 (145 pairs), two of the highest years on record.
- Chicago: Vision Zero Chicago – On Monday, November 18, Vision Zero Chicago will feature a memorial display of shoes representing the individuals killed in traffic crashes in Chicago over the past year. Full event details.
- Denver: Denver Streets Partnership – The event will focus on a candlelight vigil at Civic Center Park. Full event details.
- Los Angeles: Southern California Families for Safe Streets – On Friday, November 15, Southern California Families for Safe Streets, working with the LA Dept of Transportation, will be installing a rainbow halo for a crash victim’s family, Yana Lavrenteva. There will be a press conference with members attending to show support and love. Full event details.
- Massachusetts: Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition – There will a memorial vigil and call to action on state legislation to make traffic safety a priority. Full event details.
- New York: Families for Safe Streets – Following a private, indoor gathering for those who’ve been personally impacted by crashes, a public event near the US Dept. of Transportation will feature 100 body bags representing a demand to national leaders (and those who want to be) to put an end to the silence on traffic violence. Full event details. Also, NYC is also organizing SermonsForSafeStreets.org, calling on faith leaders of every religion to memorialize those who’ve been injured or killed and to engage their communities in the fight for safe streets.
- Orlando: The Keri Anne DeMott Foundation – Their ceremony and candlelight vigil will honor those that have been affected in all types of road traffic incidents. Special guest Matt Austin from WKMG News 6 to say a few words about working together to reduce and prevent road traffic incidents in the community. Full event details.
- Pasadena, CA: Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition – Walk in silence, placing white bike, shoes, hubcap, flowers, and candles on City Hall steps. Full event details.
- Philadelphia, PA: Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia – Community members will gather for a public rally, speeches from the mayor and elected officials, and reading of the names of victims of traffic violence at City Hall. Full event details.
- San Antonio: Vision Zero San Antonio – In partnership with the City, Vision Zero San Antonio will dedicate a mural that illustrates life on Culebra, one of the city’s main thoroughfares. Full event details.
- San Francisco Bay Area: Bay Area Families for Safe Streets and Walk San Francisco – Starting at City Hall, activities include a memorial walk, action and speeches encouraging action for Vision Zero. Full event details.
- San Jose: Bay Area Families for Safe Streets and California Walks/Walk San Jose – The event will include a walk to City Hall, press conference, vigil, and community gathering. Full event details.
- Tampa, FL: Vision Zero Hillsborough & Hillsborough MPO – The Walk of Silence — on Friday, Nov. 15 — will honor the 2019 victims of traffic violence by reading their names aloud followed by a Walk of Silence with posters bearing the names of those lost in traffic crashes and their dates of death. Full event details.
- Toronto, Canada: Friends and Families for Safe Streets – A candlelit walk will highlight the locations of traffic violence in the city, ending with a ceremony of remembrance where those who have lost someone will have the opportunity to speak their names. Following the ceremony, participants are invited to a wake and social gathering.
Full event details.
- Washington, DC: DC Families for Safe Streets – Families, survivors, loved ones, and allies will gather for a brief ceremony, and proceed together by foot or wheels to memorialize those lost in traffic crashes. Full event details.
(Note that there are likely more events not represented here. Check #WDoR2019 to follow on Twitter.)
“World Day of Remembrance is a time to honor those lost or injured in preventable crashes. These deaths should not be in vain, and we can raise awareness about safety to help prevent other families from experiencing this tragedy”. – Kathy Sokolic, Chair, Central Texas Families for Safe Streets
End the Silence on Traffic Violence
This year, Families for Safe Streets has a campaign to bring traffic violence to the forefront of policy nationally. In this first-ever campaign, End the Silence on Traffic Violence, they are shining a spotlight at the epidemic of traffic violence with leaders at the federal level, asking all U.S presidential candidates to put forward a plan “for safe, livable, and vibrant communities where Americans have safe and dignified transportation options, and can travel freely without harm.” Though traffic violence kills 40,000 people and injures another 3 million every year — similar in scale to the epidemics of gun violence and the opioid crisis in the United States — the issue of traffic safety gets comparatively scant attention and resources. We urge Vision Zero supporters to take action and Demand a Plan from presidential candidates as we approach the 2020 election. They encourage you to submit a question to the DNC for consideration in the upcoming debates. Find out more here, take action, and share with your community!
Plan an Action and Follow Actions Nationwide
If you’re interested in hosting an event, check out this guide, World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims: A Guide for Organizers, produced by the World Health Organization, RoadPeace, and the European Federation of Road Traffic Victims. This guide provides individuals and organizations ideas for events, advocacy materials, and suggestions for collaboration to ensure that the advocacy opportunity of this day is fully realized.
The Vision Zero Network will be tracking actions nationwide on the World Day of Remembrance. Follow us on Twitter @visionzeronet.
We encourage the use of #WDoR2019 and #EndTrafficViolence and #VisionZero as social media tags to promote events.
About the Vision Zero Network
The Vision Zero Network is a nonprofit effort working to advance Vision Zero across the country: the goal of zero traffic fatalities and severe injuries among all road users. The Network is bringing together leaders in health, transportation planning and engineering, enforcement, policy, advocacy, and the private sector to develop and share winning strategies, policies and practices to make Vision Zero a reality. More than 45 U.S. communities have committed to Vision Zero goals in the past five years.
Learn more about the growing Vision Zero movement and the Vision Zero Network here.