Remnants of Sanity: NMA E-Newsletter #577

Amidst the national movement by transportation planners and Vision Zero proponents to restrict driving, true believers who have never seen a car or motorist they like–speed kills, you know–we occasionally stumble upon remnants of a saner world.

Those moments of clarity are probably more common than you might think if you follow the media headlines. It’s just that the noise created by anti-driving advocates is drowning out those among us who consider personal mobility a vital societal freedom. Bringing safety into the debate is a red herring; speed limits and traffic fatality rates have been diverging consistently for decades, the former climbing higher and the latter reaching record lows in recent years.

Today’s remnant of sanity, pointed out by an NMA life member from San Diego, resides on the City of Sacramento’s Public Works page. A page, we might add, that prominently promotes the city’s Vision Zero program with these words:

Vision Zero is a traffic safety philosophy that rejects the notion that traffic crashes are simply “accidents,” but instead preventable incidents that can and must be systematically addressed.

The City of Sacramento takes transportation safety seriously and has taken an ambitious step in adopting its Vision Zero goal — signaling that the City is willing to do the hard work necessary to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries.

This year the City of Sacramento reduced speed limits in school zones on eligible streets to 15mph.  We are also studying the Top 5 Vision Zero Corridors to work with our communities on improving transportation safety.

The devotion to the program is even accompanied by a nice logo:

It takes some drilling down in the Public Works section to find established traffic engineering sanity. Really deep drilling, as a matter of fact, by following the City of Sacramento site breadcrumb Public Works > Transportation > Traffic Data & Maps > Speed Limits. There, Vision Zero believers among Sacramento bureaucrats missed this published truth:


People frequently ask to lower the speed limit on residential streets to make their streets safer and more livable. It is a common misconception that speed limits signs reduce collisions. Studies indicate that no significant change in average vehicle speeds has occurred after the posting of new or revised speed limit signs. In fact, research shows no direct relationship between posting speed limits and collision frequency.

If Sacramento doesn’t pay attention to its own words, its zero-fatality program will go the way of some other major cities like Portland, San Francisco, New York, and Seattle where hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars poured into Vision Zero programs have often resulted in rising traffic deaths rather than the elimination of fatalities.

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