New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition
Statement in Support of Bill S2885 New Jersey Vision Zero Task Force
Submitted: September 29, 2022
This Statement is in full support of Bill S2885 to establish a New Jersey Vision Zero Task Force.
The evidence is clear – there has been a terrible rise in traffic fatalities in our state and across the country. Here in NJ traffic fatalities have risen to levels not seen in decades. Over the past twelve months, 523 people have lost their lives. Over the past two years fatalities have risen over 25%. This crisis is statewide, hitting urban, suburban, and rural areas and our most vulnerable road users and marginalized communities continue to bear the brunt of this public health crisis. While our state agencies are implementing various countermeasures, our road fatalities continue to climb. The question before us is, what do we need to do to turn the tide and get to zero deaths and serious injuries on our roads.
The USDOT has issued a National Road Safety Strategy based on the safe systems approach which starts with the assumption that the only acceptable level of traffic deaths and serious injuries is zero. This policy direction is backed up with historic levels of funding made available to make our streets safer for all users. Many of the funds are linked to projects which specifically identify vision zero as the goal. Across the country there are examples of strategies and countermeasures that are meeting these goals. Our own City of Hoboken has been sited nationally for zero deaths for four years in a row.
To make the changes that will get us to zero deaths we need a statewide pro-active approach. Bill S2885 calling for a New Jersey Vision Zero Task Force is a critical step to help us accomplish this goal by providing leadership at the state level with representation from a wide spectrum of stakeholders. The Task Force can establish policy and strategies that make people’s safety the priority in our transportation system and send a clear message that any traffic deaths and serious injuries are unacceptable.
Establishing a Task Force is an opportunity for leadership to co-ordinate efforts across agencies. Although many state agencies, municipalities, safety organizations and advocates are working to make our streets safer for all users, these efforts are not well coordinated and therefore less effective statewide. The NJ Bike & Walk Coalition recently led an awareness and education campaign for the new NJ Safe Passing Law and worked with a coalition of partners, with varying
messages and outreach efforts. A campaign led and coordinated by the Task Force at the state level would have strengthened the campaign and resulted in even more effective outcomes.
With the new funds from the IIJA and IRA we have new opportunities to invest in making our roads safer for all road users while also meeting our climate and equity goals. The Safe Streets for All grant alone has the potential to bring $150 million to our state each year for the next 5 years. This Task Force can identify barriers to accessing funds by local governments. For example, overburdened communities may have a great need for infrastructure to create safer streets and neighborhoods but may not have the resources to apply for funds. It can also popularize best practices to accelerate and inform infrastructure plans and designs.
We have an opportunity at this moment with your leadership to provide coordinated statewide leadership to advance our goals of zero traffic deaths and safe and equitable mobility for all. This is a moment that can help turn the tide, save lives, and establish New Jersey as a model for the nation in traffic safety.
New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition