(May 9, 2016) – Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick hosted a Vision Zero listening session at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, a Level 1 Trauma Center, with the City of Portland’s Vision Zero Executive Committee this evening. Initial findings were shared of the Vision Zero Action Plan and public testimony was heard.
Vision Zero is the goal of ending all traffic fatalities and serious injuries. It acknowledges that the death or serious injury of even one person on Portland roadways is one too many. When answering the question, “How many of our family members, friends, or neighbors can we accept being killed or maimed in traffic?” the only acceptable answer is zero.
City of Portland staff and partners are in a year-long process to create a Vision Zero Action Plan. The plan will provide a detailed roadmap for how Portland will eliminate deaths and serious injuries from traffic crashes. The Vision Zero Executive Committee, comprised of elected officials and agency leaders, provides high-level leadership for Vision Zero efforts. The Vision Zero Task Force identifies actions specific to each agency, and develops the vision, goals and recommendations for the program. The Portland Bureau of Transportation and is leading the effort, which includes multiple City bureaus, agencies and community groups from across the region. PBOT expects to submit the plan to Portland City Council in October 2016.
Among the policy actions being considered by the Vision Zero Task Force: Utilizing marijuana or alcohol tax revenue to increase funding for the DUII Intensive Supervision Program (DISP), driver diversion and education programs; gaining local authority for the City of Portland to reduce the speed limit on Portland streets; and strengthening penalties for people who repeatedly drive in a dangerous manner.
Prior to the listening session, Mayor Hales, Commissioner Novick and Transportation Director Leah Treat toured Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, a Level I Trauma Center, which provides crucial medical services to people involved in crashes in the Portland area. The tour was led by Dr. Lori Morgan, Chief Administrative Officer of Legacy Emanuel Medical Center and Mike Morrison, B.S.N., a trauma nurse at Legacy Emanuel and a member of the Vision Zero Task Force. In 2014, the trauma service at Legacy Emanuel treated 2,586 trauma patients: 40 percent were involved in a motor vehicle or other motorized transport collision, 8 percent were struck by a vehicle and 4 percent were in bicycle crashes.
The cost of motor-vehicle crashes in Portland is astounding. The economic cost per crash of an incapacitating injury is $70,500, and for a non-incapacitating injury, $22,700, according to the National Safety Council. From 2003 to 2012 there were 2,488 incapacitating injury crashes in Portland, and 15,114 non-incapacitating injuries. These crashes resulted in a total cost of $175,404,000 and $343,087,800, respectfully. In addition to these striking figures, there were 318 deadly crashes totaling a cost of $451,560,000 during the same time frame. These costs include wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, motor vehicle damage and employers’ uninsured costs.
“Every day the women and men at this trauma center come to work and give life a fighting chance,” Mayor Hales said. “Every day, they rescue people from the brink of life-threatening injuries and give them hope. We need to do our part to help them by pursuing Vision Zero and doing everything in our power to reduce the risk of life-threatening injuries in our city. Last year, 37 people died in crashes on our streets. Many more were seriously injured. It doesn’t have to be this way.”
Commissioner Novick, who oversees PBOT, said, “Today, we saw how traffic crashes make health care more expensive for everyone. Fatalities and serious injuries cause terrible pain for families and communities across Portland. Even if you’re not involved in a crash, we all pay into a healthcare system that is burdened by the cost of treating these injuries. That’s why it’s so important for us to do what we can do achieve Vision Zero.”
“Legacy Emanuel is proud to participate in Portland’s Vision Zero efforts,” Dr. Morgan said. “Since 40 percent of our trauma patients are involved in traffic crashes, we know how crucial it is for the City and community partners to work together to reach Vision Zero. Every day, we see the injuries and suffering traffic crashes inflict on our community. As we make our streets safer, we will reduce the injuries we see here at the trauma center. We would like to thank Mayor Hales, Commissioner Novick and Director Treat for their leadership and commitment to reduce crashes.”
“This hospital is a wonderful resource for the community, but wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t need to deal with life-threatening injuries from traffic crashes here?” said Leah Treat, director of PBOT. “Too many people come to this trauma center because of traffic violence. Over the last eight months, the Vision Zero Task Force has analyzed crash data and identified our most dangerous streets and intersections. They have also identified a set of potential policy actions we can take to increase the safety of our streets. As we move forward with other Vision Zero policy initiatives, we will continue to look to City Council and our elected representatives in Salem for their leadership on traffic safety.”
Other elected officials on the Vision Zero Executive Committee include state Sens. Michael Dembrow and Diane Rosenbaum and state Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer and Metro Councilor Bob Stacey.
Additional information about Vision Zero and the Vision Zero Task Force can be found at www.visionzeroportland.com.
About the Portland Bureau of Transportation:
The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is the steward of the City’s transportation system, and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility. Learn more at www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation.