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(September 16, 2019)

A Vision Zero coordinator will be hired in 2020 to implement recommendations made by the Vision Zero Task Force. Mayor Jean Stothert created the task force to study Vision Zero strategies to reduce and eliminate traffic deaths in Omaha.

Traffic fatalities and serious injury crashes are trending upward in Omaha, recently surpassing homicides. In 2019, Omaha police report 12 homicides, 18 crash fatalities and 115 serious injury crashes (through 9/9/19).

In 2018, OPD investigated 37 fatalities and 137 serious injury crashes.

The Task Force has presented a series of recommendations to the Mayor in five categories:

Enforcement/Safety
Design/Construction
Legislation
Public awareness and education
Data Collection
Recommendations:

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 9:00 pm and 2:59 am (40%).  Most serious injury crashes between 3:00 pm and 9:00 pm (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 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 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 an 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."

Sweden created the Vision Zero model in 1997. Vision Zero cities meet 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.

Mayor Stothert’s Active Living Advisory Committee encouraged the mayor to consider Vision Zero and name the task force. The group met monthly beginning in March 2018.

“Vision Zero is a common-sense goal we should strive for,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “Public safety is our primary responsibility and priority. The only acceptable goal is zero deaths."

 

VISION ZERO TASK FORCE MEMBERS:

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, Duvall Consulting

Eric 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

 

 

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