San Francisco adopted Vision Zero in 2014, committing to end traffic deaths and reduce severe injuries through education, enforcement, and better street design.
At the core of Vision Zero is a simple and powerful philosophy: all traffic deaths are preventable. Each traffic-related death represents a life cut short, loved ones devasted, and a tragic loss to our community.
During our June Transportation Authority Board meeting, Vision Zero staff from SFMTA and San Francisco Department of Public Health presented on traffic safety outcomes and efforts over the past year.
Highlights from SFMTA’s 2021 Safe Streets presentation include:
- Speed was the primary cause of crashes in San Francisco from 2014-2020
- Following changes in state law that permitted cities to set lower speeds under certain conditions, the agency implemented speed limit reductions on several commercial corridors.
- Other initiatives included education and outreach, highly effective turn-on-red restrictions, quick-build projects, traffic calming, and more
The Transportation Authority provides funding for many of these efforts through the Prop K half-cent sales tax program, Prop AA vehicle registration program, and Prop D TNC Tax program.
San Francisco Department of Public Health staff also shared findings from their 2021 Traffic Fatality Report which indicated that a majority of traffic deaths occurred on the San Francisco High Injury Network and in Equity Priority Communities. There were 27 traffic-related fatalities in 2021, slightly fewer than in 2020 but still highly concerning, especially given the higher proportion of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths. While San Francisco’s pedestrian fatalities mirrored national trends, San Francisco’s traffic fatalities overall decreased 10% in 2021, while this figure rose 10% nationally.
The report indicated that pedestrians are consistently among the most vulnerable in San Francisco, accounting for 48% of all fatalities in 2021. The most-cited collision factors in 2021 were unsafe speeds, failure to stop at a red light, and pedestrians crossing outside of a legal crosswalk. Of particular concern are the demographics of who is being killed in traffic crashes, with Black individuals being overrepresented in fatality data relative to their representation in the San Francisco population. One piece of good news is that incidents where a driver failed to properly yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk decreased from 8 (2019) to 0 (2021). The city is also committed to expanding quick-build improvements to cover the entire High Injury Network by 2024.
Vision Zero remains a top priority for the Transportation Authority and we have continued to invest in projects to support the Vision Zero Action Strategy (PDF) using local funds. These dollars can increasingly match state and federal infrastructure funds, such as from the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and state transportation budget.