Dallas has the fifth-highest rate of fatal traffic accidents among the 25 largest U.S. cities. It also has $2 billion in unfunded street improvement needs.
Those were the highlights of two briefings to the Dallas City Council Wednesday.
A traffic safety plan briefing said 50% of the serious accidents in Dallas occur on just 8% of the city's streets. The Dallas City Council endorsed a program called Vision Zero Wednesday to improve safety on those streets with the goal of zero fatalities.
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Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that 14.47 people per 100,000 died on Dallas streets in 2017. The rate amounted to an average of two people killed every week that year. Fort Worth had the sixth-highest traffic accident fatality rate among the top 25 U.S. cities in 2017 with 12.58 people killed per 100,000.
"There are things in place that have really made a difference over time. We just need to do more of those things," Dallas Transportation Director Michael Rogers said.
The Vision Zero Network is a nonprofit organization that pursues the goal of zero traffic fatalities.
Vision Zero improvements could include changes in street design, lane markings, lighting, signs, education and police traffic enforcement.
A task force to be appointed will help collaborate between city departments for Vision Zero improvements in Dallas.
Some of the changes are already being included in street construction projects.
One street shown on a map of the 8% of the streets deemed dangerous was Davis Street in Oak Cliff, where several fatal accidents have occurred the past few years.
A reconstruction project is underway on Davis to add wider sidewalks and a new parking configuration near businesses.
Driver Charlie Dodson, who said he had his brakes repaired Wednesday at a Davis Street garage, said the poor condition of many Dallas streets was part of the safety problem.
"All that wear and tear on cars is detrimental. That's why we see so many cars broken down on the side of the road when we have traffic jams. A lot of it has to do with the condition of the roads and the streets," Dodson said. "I see people driving the wrong way down the street on one-way streets a lot of times."
An infrastructure management briefing to the city council Wednesday said Dallas needed to spend $212 million dollars more a year to keep street conditions from declining below current levels. It said current spending would allow conditions to decline.
The city of Dallas is still spending money from a 2017 public improvement bond referendum and city council members have just approved a new budget for street maintenance.
"Thank you for being honest and telling us the real truth about where we stand as a city," councilman Omar Narvaez said. "I think now we know. We've got a year to start looking at how we can increase dollars in streets. We've got to focus on this."
Dodson said he supported more spending on streets.
"I don't think they could spend money any better than that. Right now, we endanger people every day with the condition of the streets," Dodson said.
Interactive maps on the city's website allow residents to track Dallas pavement conditions, planned maintenance work and bond projects.