Traffic fatalities are an unacceptable and preventable public health epidemic, and should be eliminated, according to the Greater Mercer Public Health Partnership’s new Vision Zero policy, adopted January 2, 2019.
The Greater Mercer Public Health Partnership ( https://healthymercer.org/ ) is a collaboration of hospitals, health departments, the Mercer County Department of Health and Human Services, and other not-for-profit organizations whose mission is to measurably improve the health of residents of the Greater Mercer County community.
“The Partnership believes traffic fatalities are preventable and should be considered a public health issue. In addition, by encouraging walking and bicycling through safer streets, diseases related to sedentary lifestyle, e.g. obesity, diabetes, heart disease, can be reduced.”
The new policy follows the endorsement of Vision Zero by Lawrence Township’s Health Advisory Board ( http://lawrencetwp.com/com-health.html ), and encourages elected officials throughout Mercer County to adopt Vision Zero policies and programs to systematically eliminate traffic fatalities.
According to the policy, Vision Zero strategies build on a “Safe System” approach to road safety. This holistic approach requires individuals to consider the road system in its entirety, focusing on the impact of “upstream factors” such as design guidelines, public participation, policy and vehicle regulations, and how they influence injuries and fatalities.
“We hope to raise awareness that traffic fatalities are not to be accepted,” says Cheryl Kastrenakes, Executive Director of Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association ( https://gmtma.org/ ). “Too many people believe that they are simply an unfortunate part of life and don’t realize that we have the tools to prevent them.”
According to New Jersey State Police statistics, Mercer County traffic fatalities increased from a low of nineteen in 2015 to twenty nine in 2018, including thirteen pedestrians and one bicyclist
( https://www.njsp.org/info/fatalacc/pdf/ptccr_18.pdf ). Every Mercer County municipality, plus NJDOT and Mercer County itself, have adopted Complete Streets policies, which contribute to safety by requiring improvements to support all road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and transit users.