Roadway Improvements Proposed to Combat High Traffic Fatality Rate in Dallas

Input from residents about safety changes is being taken through Aug. 13

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Safety improvements are planned on Dallas roads to combat one of the nation’s highest rates of traffic fatalities among big U.S. cities.

Vision Zero is a program that would make some changes, with input from residents being taken through Aug. 13.

The city of Dallas is number two behind only Jacksonville, Florida for the worst rate of fatal roadway accidents among the 15 largest cities in the country.

Last weekend alone added to the statistics.

Friday night alone in Dallas County, six people died and four were hurt in four different crashes.

A wrong-way driver was killed in West Dallas Friday night in a head-on collision that injured people in the other vehicle. The names of the people involved were still not available Monday.

Before midnight Friday in the 300 Block of Mockingbird Lane, two racing vehicles crashed as they approached a bridge. One vaulted over a guardrail and crashed into a building. The other vehicle struck two light poles. Three people were killed in one vehicle. Two in the other were in critical condition.

Dallas police have formed a task force to combat the problems of street racing and stunt driving.

“We can't police our way out of these problems. We've got to have a long-term plan in place where we can make it safer for everybody to be outside,” Dallas City Council Member Chad West said.

West serves on the Dallas City Council Transportation Committee, which endorsed the traffic fatality reduction plan called Vision Zero.

The program has a website with an interactive map that is taking a public survey on traffic problems through Aug. 13.

So far, Vision Zero has already identified the most accident-prone streets and the 20 most crash-prone Dallas intersections.

Money is available from state grants to install safer traffic signals and street improvements at those intersections, with a goal of drastic accident reduction by 2030.

“It's a lofty goal considering we are one of the worst offending large cities in the country right now for us to get to that goal,” West said.

But, the councilman said he wants more safety improvements beyond the Vision Zero locations, including a stretch of Jefferson Boulevard in his Oak Cliff district.

Police say a speeding driver in broad daylight on July 9 slammed into another vehicle and then hit a landscaper who was mowing a lawn beside the street.

The landscaper, 48-year old Armando Esparza, was killed.

West said speed reduction is now proposed for that section of Jefferson Boulevard by reducing the roadway from six lanes to four.

“This is something that we’re going to be asking for neighborhood input on, and I would love to use this as a model throughout my district and ultimately the whole city,” West said.

Another traffic calming modification, a traffic circle roundabout, is under construction at Tyler and Canty streets near Kidd Springs Park.

But it was a drunk driver accused of killing Dallas police Ofc. Mitchell Penton on the Central Expressway in February.

Roadway improvements may not solve the criminal behavior that is responsible for some of the Dallas traffic fatalities.

Fort Worth also has an issue with traffic fatalities. That city ranks fourth on the list of high fatality rates.

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