Republished courtesy of New Jersey Monitor
State lawmakers are proposing the state create a Vision Zero task force, with an ambitious goal to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2035.
The task force, which would comprise 21 people appointed by the governor and legislative leadership, would study and analyze all aspects of traffic safety, with a focus on access, equity, and mobility for everyone using the roads. It would also advise the governor, state Department of Transportation, and Legislature on policies and programs aimed at reducing traffic deaths and injuries.
Vision Zero is a nationwide campaign aiming to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries. It was first implemented in Europe in the 1990s and has now been adopted by major cities and small suburbs across the country.
The bill (S2885) comes amid an increase in traffic deaths in New Jersey — the New Jersey State Police said there have been 526 fatalities on the roads so far this year, compared to 479 in all of 2021. A report released in July ranked New Jersey as the 19th deadliest state in the nation for pedestrians in 2020.
The measure is set to be heard Thursday in the Senate Transportation Committee.
“New Jersey is the country’s most densely populated state and among our nation’s most traveled. Continued efforts to evaluate traffic safety and transportation system designs with the goal of reducing crashes must be a top priority for residents of and visitors to our state,” bill sponsors Sen. Patrick Diegnan and Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak, both Middlesex County Democrats, said in a statement.
The measure would also provide advice and assistance to municipalities and counties looking to implement their own traffic policies.
Jersey City was the first municipality in the Garden State to adopt Vision Zero in 2019, and traffic deaths are down 40% compared to last year, according to the city’s mayor, Steve Fulop.
“A Vision Zero task force on the state-level is critical to expand upon these efforts and would devote the resources and attention needed to achieve safer streets for all road users across the entire state,” Fulop said when the bill was introduced in June.
Hoboken also implemented a Vision Zero policy, and the city hasn’t seen a traffic death in four years.
The task force would be required to submit an annual report of their findings before the third Sunday in November each year — which also marks World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.