In June 2009 concerned citizens along with local and state agencies launched the Aurora Traffic Safety Project to improve safety along Aurora Avenue North. Between April 2005 and March 2008 from the Battery Street Tunnel to N. 145th Street, 1,581 collisions occurred – on average 46 collisions per month. This project has employed short-term, low cost solutions through engineering, education and enforcement efforts to reduce collisions, serious injuries and deaths. After more than two years of work, the major efforts that comprised the Aurora Traffic Safety Project are now complete.
Though these low-cost engineering improvements were completed within the last year, they are already showing results. The newly reconfigured intersection of Halladay St and Aurora, a location that previously averaged nearly 20 collisions annually, has been collision-free since construction was completed in May 2011. And the radar speed signs, combined with our enforcement emphasis patrols, have reduced the speed of the majority of drivers by nearly 3 miles per hour.
Educational Outreach Helps Travelers Get the Message
The project’s multi-faceted educational outreach program targeted behaviors known to contribute to collisions with particular emphasis on behavior that puts the most vulnerable people at risk. Billboards and other outreach activities at local schools and businesses have zeroed in on distracted driving and eliminating driver behaviors that create unsafe conditions on our roadways.
Enforcement Emphasis Patrols on Aurora Daily
Throughout the project, targeted emphasis patrols have been maintained by the Seattle Police Department to curb behaviors that data shows are contributing to collisions such as speeding, failure to yield and distracted or inattentive driving. Since the project launch, the Seattle Police Department has issued more than 15,000 citations on Aurora. And while the major engineering and education components of this project are now complete, extra enforcement patrols will continue on Aurora thanks to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.
Data Shows This Approach to Traffic Safety is Working
Data indicates that this project has achieved its goal of improving safety. Since the project was launched in the summer of 2009, collisions on Aurora Avenue North have been reduced overall by 20 percent with serious injury and fatal collisions down by 18 percent when compared to collision data from 2005 to 2008. These numbers represent a significant improvement in safety for one of the busiest streets in the city.
In addition, the emphasis that our education and enforcement efforts placed on behaviors like failure to yield, speeding, and inattention/distracted driving has paid off. Collisions in which failure to yield was a contributing circumstance are down 34 percent, collisions caused by inattention/distracted driving are down 28 percent, and collisions involving speeding have been reduced by 20 percent.
The Aurora Traffic Safety Project laid the ground work for improvements along this corridor for the short and long term. SDOT will continue to use the project’s Action Plan for future safety and mobility enhancements. In fact, we’ve already secured nearly $6 million in grant funding for significant engineering improvements along Aurora. These funds will allow us to install a new signal at N 95th Street and construct new sidewalks and curb ramps along significant segments of the corridor.
Special thanks go out to all of the residents and business owners that volunteered their time to participate this project and to the State of Washington for making this project possible. The Aurora Traffic Safety Project has been a collaborative effort coordinated by the Seattle Department of Transportation and supported by grants from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission and the Washington Department of Transportation.