Tackling the Pittsburgh Traffic Safety Crisis Head-On

March 12, 2024

According to Pittsburgh lawyer Jason Matuzs, there is a national and local uptick in traffic-related fatalities. In light of this, Pittsburgh city officials have redoubled their efforts towards a “vision zero” initiative, aiming for a future with no traffic deaths.

Tackling the Pittsburgh Traffic Safety Crisis Head-On

Recent statistics reveal a concerning increase in Pittsburgh, with fatal accidents rising by about 70% from 2018 to 2022 and homicides up by 20% in the same timeframe. Despite less travel during the COVID-19 pandemic’s early days, Pennsylvania saw more traffic deaths, with some linking the rise to increased speeding. The reasons behind Pittsburgh’s ongoing uptick in traffic-related fatalities remain unclear.

In 2023, traffic accidents resulted in 21 deaths in Pittsburgh, reports city traffic engineer Mike Maloch. City Councilwoman Barb Warwick emphasized the dangers of speeding, reckless, and distracted driving, raising concerns about the safety of children playing near streets.

To combat this, Pittsburgh is dedicating approximately $1.4 million of its 2024 budget to traffic calming measures like speed humps and upgraded traffic signals. This effort continues the vision zero strategy initiated by former Mayor Bill Peduto in 2015, leading to the creation of DOMI in 2017 to manage the complete streets policy. DOMI Director Kim Lucas announced, “We’re reinforcing our commitment with increased funding and an interdepartmental working group.”

Past efforts to slow traffic have shown success, with a 55% reduction in speeding violations and a 7 mph decrease in average speeding speeds from 2019 to 2022. Enhanced traffic signals with pedestrian countdowns and audio have cut accidents by 33%. With 1,000 requests for more calming measures, the city is focusing on “high injury network” corridors, which are prone to accidents and represent about 10% of city roads, for safety improvements.

Pittsburgh is collaborating with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and pushing for legislative changes to allow lower speed limits and the use of radar and camera enforcement. Current state laws limit the city’s traffic safety regulations. Meanwhile, the city is implementing “low cost” measures like additional signage to improve driver awareness while planning for more significant projects.

Partnerships for safety with state departments, other cities, and the private sector are key to Pittsburgh’s strategy. These collaborations leverage shared knowledge, resources, and technology to enhance traffic safety. Working with tech companies offers new ways to monitor traffic, prevent accidents, and respond to emergencies, while partnerships with advocacy groups and the community strengthen safety campaigns.

Pittsburgh’s ongoing commitment to its vision zero strategy underscores the complex path to eliminating traffic fatalities. By pursuing legislative changes, technological advancements, community engagement, a data-driven approach, and infrastructure upgrades, Pittsburgh is crafting a model for safer, more inclusive urban mobility. The effectiveness of these efforts will be judged not just by reduced fatalities and injuries, but by the creation of a more livable, resilient city for all residents.


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