Montgomery Co. aims for zero traffic deaths by 2030

Emergency crews transported the victim, who was riding a recumbent bike at the time of the crash, to an area hospital. Initially, it appeared as if the man sustained non-life-threatening injuries, but he later died, said Montgomery County police spokesman Capt. Paul Starks. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)

WASHINGTON — Officials in Montgomery County, Maryland, rolled out a new program this week that aims to ultimately eliminate traffic deaths on county roads.

County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett said the Vision Zero program will direct resources toward initiatives that help reduce severe and fatal collisions involving vehicle occupants, bicyclists and pedestrians.

“Vision Zero is an audacious goal,” said Leggett.

“It is one that we can all embrace and champion together in order to bring to zero the number of heartbreaking deaths and serious injuries due to traffic collisions.”

The initial goal is to reduce crashes by 35 percent by November 2019.

At the same time, the program calls for developing an action plan to eliminate all severe and fatal collisions by 2030.

According to county officials, between 2010 and 2016, a county-run pedestrian safety initiative led to 250 fewer severe crashes and 33 fewer fatal crashes compared to the previous five-year average.

“We have made progress,” said Leggett. “With Vision Zero, we can strengthen our efforts.”

Leggett announced the program Wednesday, just hours before a fatal crash in Takoma Park.

Montgomery County police said that James Byrne, 79, was struck by an SUV while walking near the intersection of New Hampshire and Larch avenues just before 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Byrne was seriously injured and later died at a hospital. Detectives are still investigating.

“It is time that we stop using the word ‘accident’ in our county,” said Roger Berliner, the county council’s president. “There are not accidents; there are crashes. All of these crashes are preventable.”

The Vision Zero concept, which originated in Sweden in 1997, has since been adopted by many jurisdictions in the United States.

D.C. launched its own Vision Zero program in recent years.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said the goal is, by the year 2024, to reach zero fatalities and serious injuries to travelers across the city’s transportation system.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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