With complete 2019 preliminary traffic fatality figures now available, and with such data available all the way to 1997, longitudinal trends for Bernalillo County are increasing NOT Vision Zero. Taking population growth into account from Census Bureau estimates, the fatality figures above elicit many hypotheses (e.g., falling numbers of deaths during the worst stretch of the “Great Recession” and correlations of deaths and vehicle miles traveled), yet one unmistakable fact is that we as a community have experienced a remarkable traffic death in recent years.
Reversing this dramatic trend will take more than re-striping roads and putting up “Lights are set for 30 mph” signs. Get anywhere close to “Vision Zero,” heck, even getting deaths back to the early/mid 2000s, before the explosion in truck/SUV sales (another hypothesis for the rise in deaths), will require fundamental changes of driving behavior, roadway engineering, and law enforcement accompanied by a perhaps even more important paradigmatic change in mindset.
We must actually start caring about the number of traffic deaths and act, swiftly and meaningfully, on that concern.
Until then, the orange line in the graph above will stay far, perhaps increasingly far, from zero.