City of Asheville hopes new task force will reduce traffic collisions

Asheville made another top 10 list, but this time it's not an accolade on a travel blog or outdoor focused publication. From 2013-15, the city of Asheville was the worst city in the state, adjusted for population, for traffic collisions. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Asheville made another top 10 list, but this time it's not an accolade on a travel blog or outdoor focused publication.

From 2013-15, the city of Asheville was the worst city in the state, adjusted for population, for traffic collisions. In 2016, Asheville lost its snarled metal crown to Greenville, coming in second place.

Viewers News 13 spoke to weren't surprised by the statistics and offered a few different hypotheses as to why the mountain town might be so high on the list, including winding roads, poor infrastructure and a large number of tourists.

Jessica Morris, assistant director of transportation for Asheville, admits the mountains can make designing roads more challenging, but doesn't think there is any one reason crashes happen more frequently here. Now, Morris hopes a new program will help bring those numbers down.

"Vision Zero is an initiative that was developed in Sweden in the 1990s, and it's being implemented throughout the country ," Morris said. "It's meant to have a holistic, kind of systems-based, approach to looking at traffic collisions and diagnosing the root cause of collisions."

The number of traffic deaths in Sweden has dropped dramatically since its implementation despite a higher number of motorists during that same period.

"We need to be looking at our streets in a complete way," Morris said. "So, another thing the city is working on very diligently is designing and constructing streets that serve all people, all modes of transportation, and allows them to travel safely through the city."

If the Vision Zero task force is approved at next Tuesday's city council meeting, Morris says they hope to include various groups in the community who can help identify issues and, hopefully, come up with some solutions.

In many road transportation systems, the user bears responsibility for safety. Under the Vision Zero system, responsibility is shared by road system designers, who could reduce speed limits or implement traffic calming measures.

The full report can be viewed by clicking here.

Numbers from 2017 are expected later this fall.

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