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Road deaths prompt Dallas City Council members to consider a plan to improve traffic safety

A car speeds by as others wait in line for a food giveaway hosted by Dallas ISD, on Nov. 12, 2020.
Keren Carrión
/
KERA
Dallas City Council members are looking at a plan that would reduce a disturbing traffic fatality rate.

Dallas has one of the highest traffic fatality rates in the nation. And the city council is looking at a plan that could change that.

The Vision Zero Plan would improve to traffic streetlights, add speed bumps to more roads and reduce speed limits. The plan is part of a movement to improve road safety that started in Europe but has spread to the United States.

In Texas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio are also looking at the plan to reduce traffic injuries and deaths.

“Traffic deaths are preventable,” said Ghassan Khankarli, the city’s Director at the Department of Transportation.

Dallas ranks the second highest for traffic fatality rates among the 15 most populous cities in America. And since 2010, traffic deaths in Dallas have increased by 80%.

A transportation department analysis found that pedestrians are involved in more than one out of every three traffic accidents in Dallas. Speeding was involved in 19% of the accidents and drivers under the influence of alcohol were responsible for 14%.

Council member Omar Narvaez said he's heard from residents in West Dallas who are afraid to walk on the street.

“Folks want speeds to slow down in their in their neighborhoods. I can tell you that's the number one thing I hear about day in and day out,” Narvaez said.

Narvaez wants to see more sidewalks and bike lanes across the city included in the plan.

Other council members said the city should encourage traffic safety in more of its advertising. Council member Chad West and Adam McGough said it was crucial to speed up the plan’s approval.

Council member Jesse Moreno said enforcing speed regulations is only part of the solution.

“Speed cushions, speed bumps, striping, road diets (reducing speed limits and lane reductions), it's all great. But what we heard today is that we have to practice what we are preaching, and we have to put our money allocations to keep our streets safe,” Moreno said.

City transportation leaders said they’ve already started adding reflective outlines to traffic lights to improve visibility at night. But they hope the council will allocate more money for additional improvements in the upcoming budget.

The plan would spend $750,000 on low-cost improvements like reflective signals, more street lighting and bike lane striping. An additional $100,000 would be spent on pedestrian crossing enhancements.

City transportation leaders will finalize the plan with feedback from city council later this year. Then they will seek full council approval.

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member for KERA News. Email Alejandra at amartinez@kera.org. You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.