KNOXVILLE Tenn. (WATE) — The number of pedestrians killed on roadways has reached the highest level it ever has in 40 years, and the growing death toll is making organizations like Bike Walk Knoxville to push for change.
On Sunday, the families of road crash victims and street safety advocates gathered at Market Square to commemorate World Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims.
The event is one of hundreds that happened across the U.S. and is the first for Knoxville.
In the last five years, more than 1,200 people in Knoxville have had their lives changed forever by crashes that led to a fatality or serious injury. Bryan Hill is a survivor himself.
“Yeah, some of the first responders that I’ve talked to afterwards said they gave me a fifty-fifty chance of even making it out of that alive,” he said. “I have metal rods and pins running from my hip to my heal and it severed the back of my calf… I have skin graphs from my thighs that had to be used to repair that and I lost about five pints of blood, so I had no radial pulse when the ambulance got there.”
Hill was struck from behind by a drunk driver. Since his accident, he has dedicated himself to preventing what happened to him from happening to other people by joining Bike Walk Knoxville and pushing for the Vision Zero action plan.
“Vision Zero is the city of Knoxville’s goal to help eliminate all roadway fatalities and serious injuries on city owned streets,” said Zoe Scott, the advocacy director at Bike Walk Knoxville.
Vision Zero is an international grassroots campaign that started in Sweden in 1997 to eliminate fatal crashes on roadway. Since then, it has decreased fatalities nationally by 62%.
The Knoxville City Council recently came up with a Vision Zero action plan to help outline strategies to make Knoxville roadways a safer place.
“We know that a lot of a changes that we need to make are looking at infrastructure and street design, we need to be making sure that our system is designed in a way to be safe for everyone,” said Scott. “We think this Vision Zero action plan outlines the way we can achieve that and we are excited to see that process move forward here in Knoxville.”
They also are pushing for a change in the language.
“Accident makes it sound like it’s something that is inevitable, something that couldn’t be avoided,” said Hill. “We don’t need our traffic mistakes to result in fatalities and serious injury, so we ask you all to change that language from accident to crash.”
Traffic fatalities are the leading cause of preventable deaths worldwide, and the city of Knoxville’s Vision Zero action plan is working towards eliminating fatalities on city roads by 2040.