This year’s World Remembrance Day expressed additional urgency as the number of people dying and seriously injured is preventable Traffic accidents in the United States are rising at an alarming rate. In 2021, 42,060 people died in traffic accidents in the United States, according to estimates from the National Safety Council (NSC). And 2022 is shaping up to be even deadlier, with an estimated 7% increase in the death toll in the same quarter of 2021.
“While Charlotte’s fatal crashes are currently down 32%, we can’t bring back the lives already lost to traffic violence,” said Debbie Smith, director of transportation. “Today we honor every life taken too soon while traveling on our roads, recognize this Day of Remembrance, and publicly renew our commitment to our efforts alongside the community to increase the safety, health, and mobility of all road users.”
Communities across the US have organized events to urge change at the local and state levels — including lowering speed limits and redesigning roads to welcome people who walk and ride bikes safely.
Traffic violence is a preventable public health crisis. The Charlotte World Day of Remembrance event featured a shoehorn display representing every life lost on the city’s streets from 2019 to 2021. Those who attended the event also heard directly from family members affected by traffic violence Charlotte Department of Transportation Director Debbie Smith, Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings and CEO of Charlotte Sistine Shannon Baines.
“One death on the road is one death many,” said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings. “Listening to the stories of people who have lost loved ones, and understanding the trauma these types of deaths have left behind, we want to assure those families that CMPD remains committed to working with community leaders to do what we can to make Charlotte a Vision Zero City.”
The International Day of Remembrance is an international event of honoring 1.35 million People are killed and millions more injured on the world’s roads each year Organizing for change to prevent such tragedies.
With the recent approval of the federal infrastructure bill, we have a historic opportunity to direct billions of dollars toward fixing unsafe roads and improving walking and cycling conditions—especially for communities that have traditionally been underserved.
“We must redesign our streets for the safety of those most vulnerable and commit to making safety a higher priority than speed,” said Shannon Baines, CEO of Soutine Charlotte. “We commend the City of Charlotte’s efforts to move in this direction and urge them to always prioritize their critical work to ensure our streets are safe for everyone.”
Around the world, World Remembrance Day efforts have shared the overarching goals of remembrance, support and action. Smith specifically called on all residents to help save lives, especially vulnerable road users traveling as pedestrians and cyclists. I asked the residents to put themselves in their shoes and asked everyone to drive at the specified speed without distraction or under the influence of drugs.