The Cost of Vision Zero

Ronacin Tjhung was struck & killed at MLK & South Graham January 2017 Ronacin Tjhung, father of 4 young children, was struck & killed in January 2017 at MLK & South Graham on his way to work January 2017 May 25, 2017 Cathy Tuttle, @SNGreenways Executive Director Every life is precious, and over the course of a year, thousands of lives in Seattle are impacted by traffic violence. In just the past few months in Seattle, two young parents were hit and killed by people driving, people young and old were maimed for life crossing the street, and people commuting to work who’d love to get healthy exercise by walking or biking to their jobs were intimidated by speeding and distracted drivers and so refused to continue commuting by active transportation. As a society, we’ve chosen to accept this loss of life and freedom as our collective cost of driving. Serious road injuries and fatalities also have a real economic cost. A shockingly high cost it turns out.
The High Cost of Traffic Violence
The high cost of traffic violence is what we asked Tim Ganter to capture in his extraordinary data visualizations. Let’s look at one example, the intersection of Rainier Ave S with MLK Ave S, better known as the Accessible Mt. Baker project. In 2016, our advocacy group successfully lobbied for more funding to go to this intersection.  Tim’s new map tells the story of what our local advocates had verified on the ground. Click on image for Data viz map  
  • In the past decade there have been two fatalities and scores of injuries in and around MLK and Rainier Ave S.
  • In the past decade, the cost of traffic violence around MLK and Rainier Ave S added up to an astonishing $17,206,400 according to actuarial tables developed by the National Safety Council.
So which fact is more shocking? The money or the violence? Which fact is most likely to influence public opinion and get leaders to invest and take action?   Stories of individual lives lost and shattered because of traffic violence are compelling. But so too are the dollar costs to our society for choosing to invest in streets that favor safety over speeding. I encourage you to explore Tim’s work, based on Seattle’s open-sourced traffic incident reports, combined with fully vetted National Safety Council cost estimates for fatalities and injuries. Please let Tim and @SNGreenways know how you use this work in your own neighborhoods. And let Tim know if you want his expertise in developing traffic data visualizations for your own community.