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Tempe raising awareness to eliminate traffic deaths

Fourteen people died in traffic accidents in Tempe in 2021. And this weekend, the city will be honoring them with ceremonial signs at the intersections where they were killed. It’s part of an awareness campaign as the city tries to eliminate traffic deaths entirely.

The day is called World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims which happens on Sunday, Nov. 20. Tempe is participating in this day for the fourth year in a row. The city hopes displaying signs will bring increased awareness to drivers in the city.

“So then people driving by see it, causing them to stop and either think about the fact that someone died in a crash or also the benefit of 'hey I drive this street everyday, there was a problem here I gotta pay more attention,'” said Catherine Hollow, city traffic engineer for Tempe.

Since 2018, Tempe has been a Vision Zero city and enacted their Vision Zero plan. Hollow says the plan is simple. “We want to reduce serious injury and fatal crashes to zero,” she said. The plan, launched in 2018, tries to improve the visibility of intersections, increase the availability of sidewalks, and limit speeds in certain zones among other things.

One of Tempe's newer initiatives is the Safety Corridors program. This program uses data to target areas where the most fatal crashes tend to happen and increase enforcement there.

Hollow says, “We’ve put somewhat larger signs out there, yellow signs that say this is a safety corridor and they become special enforcement zones so we work with the police department to establish these areas they look at doing special enforcement.”

The Safety Corridors program launched less than a year ago so the city does not have numbers on its effectiveness. The basis for the Vision Zero plan comes from Sweden in the 1990s. It has also been implemented in big cities like New York, LA, San Francisco, Seattle and Phoenix.

Pratham Dalal was an intern at KJZZ in 2022.