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Acting Mayor London Breed and City Agencies Announce Significant Progress in San Francisco's Vision Zero Goal

Thursday, January 4, 2018
Contact: Mayor's Office of Communications 415-554-6131

2017 traffic fatalities fewest in City’s recorded history 

Acting Mayor London Breed today joined the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, the Department of Public Health, the San Francisco Police Department and advocacy groups to announce that 2017 traffic deaths in San Francisco were the fewest since the City began keeping records in 1915.

“This year is proof that we are making significant progress in our mission to make San Francisco streets safe for everyone,” said Acting Mayor Breed. “While this is an important accomplishment, our work is not done. Just this New Year’s day, we had a serious pedestrian incident on Geary Boulevard. We must push forward with safety improvements until we reach our ultimate goal—zero traffic deaths on our streets.”

In 2013, the year before Vision Zero was launched in San Francisco, there were 34 fatalities on the city’s streets. In 2017, that number fell to a record low of 20, a decrease of 41 percent. Pedestrian fatalities, a historic low of 14 in 2017, fell 34 percent during the same period.

San Francisco’s improving statistics run counter to regional and national trends, which show that traffic deaths, particularly among pedestrians and cyclists, are on the rise.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that nationwide traffic fatalities increased 5.6 percent in 2016 from the previous year. In the Bay Area, traffic fatalities increased 43 percent from 2010 to 2016, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

San Francisco’s decline in traffic fatalities also comes during a time of unprecedented growth in the city. According the U.S. Census Bureau, San Francisco added roughly 100,000 new commuters between 2006 and 2015.

At the core of Vision Zero is a very simple philosophy: traffic deaths are preventable and unacceptable. While these statistics are an encouraging sign the City is making progress toward achieving its goal of zero traffic fatalities, City departments and advocates are redoubling their efforts to make the San Francisco’s streets safer.

In 2017, the SFMTA implemented over 700 engineering measures on city streets, including more than 70 concrete bulb-outs, 50 painted safety zones, 50 speed humps and 50 signal system upgrades. The agency also installed 12 miles of new or upgraded bikeways. In total, 77 miles of engineering improvements were installed in 2017, 34 miles of which were on the city’s “High-Injury Network”, where 13 percent of streets account for 75 percent of the city’s severe and fatal traffic injuries.

“City agencies are collaborating with our community partners to make San Francisco’s streets safer through smart, data-driven engineering, education and enforcement,” said SFMTA Director of Transportation, Ed Reiskin. “While we are pleased that 2017 saw the fewest traffic fatalities since recordkeeping started, we will not be satisfied until no one loses a life on our streets - the only acceptable goal is zero. Vision Zero is a long-term effort and we remain dedicated to working together to make our streets safer for all.”

Last year, the SFMTA, SFPD, and SFDPH collaborated with community stakeholders to initiate outreach and education campaigns to raise awareness about traffic safety and Vision Zero with a focus on speed, motorcycle safety and events to memorialize San Franciscans who have died in traffic collisions.

Vision Zero is a key public health issue. SFDPH plays a critical role by coordinating with Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital to conduct data analyses on patients injured in traffic collisions so that the City is better informed about where collisions most commonly occur. This has led to the creation of the High-Injury Network – the first analysis in the United States that maps both police and hospital records to inform targeted traffic safety efforts. 

In San Francisco, seniors are disproportionately victims of traffic collisions, making up 50 percent of pedestrian deaths in 2017 while comprising just 15 percent of the population. In response, SFDPH launched the Safe Streets for Seniors program, which has reached over 730 seniors, providing multilingual Vision Zero education to them and their service providers.

“Seniors are particularly vulnerable to serious and fatal traffic injuries on our streets,” said Barbara Garcia, San Francisco Health Director. “We are working closely with seniors and service providers to understand their needs and concerns in order to improve our efforts and save lives. The work is made stronger and more effective by the partnership among the Health Department, SFMTA and Police.”

Enforcement is a critical compliment to engineering improvements in achieving Vision Zero. The SFPD’s “Focus on the Five” campaign is a targeted initiative to enforce the five traffic violations that most often result in traffic deaths and serious injuries. These violations include: running red lights, running stop signs, violating pedestrian right of way, speeding, and failure to yield while turning. In 2017, 38,193 traffic citations were issued for “Focus on the Five” violations.

“The San Francisco Police Department works closely with SFMTA to help identify high-injury corridors and focus our enforcement and education efforts,” said San Francisco Police Chief William Scott. “This decline in fatalities shows our work is paying off, but there is still much more to be done. We are committed to using data to direct our enforcement efforts and make San Francisco streets a safer place to walk, bicycle and drive.”

“The City has invested substantial resources in street safety improvements since adopting Vision Zero, and pedestrian deaths have dropped each year since then,” said Cathy DeLuca, Policy and Program Director of Walk San Francisco. “This is great news –– and we must do better. Twenty lives lost is too many. One is too many. We can get to zero. With increased investment and quicker project delivery, we can build on this momentum and reach our goal by 2024.