World Day of Remembrance is a time to remember those lost and reinforce our commitment to safety and health for all.

Crossing the street in Seattle as a family. Photo Credit: SDOT Flickr.

This Sunday, November 15, marks the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, an annual memoriam adopted by the United Nations. 

According to the United Nations, this day is an important reminder for all communities across the world of the obligation and duty we have at all levels of life and governance to reduce fatalities on roads. While much of our communication at SDOT is focused on of the safety measures we take each day, traffic fatalities are shared tragedies across the globe and challenge we must all confront and do better to prevent, together.  

This day is also an opportunity to recognize our loved ones who have lost their lives while traveling on the street. While there is heartbreak in these remembrances, there is also an opportunity for renewed commitment and focus on the critical path ahead for all of us. The day also comes at the tail end of National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week, when we honored the work of first responders and SDOT’s own Response Team to keep our community safe. 

Every day at SDOT, but especially on this World Day of Remembrance, we re-commit to our efforts to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030 through our Vision Zero plan. 

Around the world, 1.35 million people are killed each year in traffic crashes, including nearly 40,000 Americans. As of November 10, 2020, here in Seattle, 22 people have lost their lives this year while traveling on city streets. On average, approximately 20 people are killed and 150 are seriously injured annually in Seattle. 

These were our neighbors. They were someone’s child, someone’s partner, someone’s sibling or parent. Our hearts are heavy for each person who has passed.  

Image Credit: World Day of Remembrance.

Please join us in taking a moment to remember all those who have been killed or seriously injured in crashes. 

This type of loss impacts, yet connects, so many of us. With this grief also comes a shared affirmation of our support for safe streets and to our Vision Zero efforts – efforts that we know are long-term and require a collective, systems approach to change. 

These include lowering speed limits citywideinstalling leading pedestrian intervals to make it safer to cross the street, redesigning our highest injury streets, and working with partners to engage with and educate community. These efforts do not and should not exist in a silo. 

We want to recognize that safe streets require a comprehensive approach to community building and public health that goes far beyond traffic signs and roadway improvements. Our focus and work, partnerships and plans, must be bigger if we want to truly manifest our Vision Zero principles.  

A few weeks after the killing of George Floyd, the Vision Zero Network (of which we are a part) issued a statement shedding light on the fact that we as transportation professionals cannot do this work of transportation safety, without also acknowledging and understanding the deep inequity and systemic racism that exists in our field.  

Black people in the U.S. are more likely to be killed in traffic crashes and are also more likely to be stopped by and killed by police during routine traffic stops. We cannot focus on the first half of that reality without also working on the second. 

Vision Zero Network 

We wholeheartedly agree. As we move closer to 2021 – a new year that we hope will bring light and positive change – we will not forget those who have lost their lives.  

We have work to do to continue to design a safer transportation system that takes into account our shared imperfection as human beings so that if a bad crash does occur, it doesn’t result in death or serious injury. We also have big shifts to make in the space of re-thinking enforcement in our work, and truly centering on, engaging with, and supporting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities.  

We hope you’ll join us in this work. We can’t do it without you.