A three day statewide gathering on transportation is underway in mid Missouri’s Columbia. The 2nd Annual combined Highway Safety and Traffic Blueprint Conference offers 15 workshops for industry professionals and the public aimed at improving road safety.
This year’s program includes traffic engineering topics with a focus on what the organizers refer to as the four E’s of highway safety (engineering, education, enforcement and Emergency medical services).
The conference includes topics ranging from bike and pedestrian safety to new vehicle technology.
One of the major presentations to kick off the gathering Wednesday looked at the program called Missouri’s Blueprint – A Partnership Toward Zero Deaths.
It’ll feature the city of Columbia’s Vision Zero plan. The concept to strive for the elimination of traffic deaths started in Sweden in 1997.
The first U.S. city to adopt the program was New York City in 2014. Columbia became the 22nd member of the network of American Vision Zero cities earlier this year, which has since grown to about 35.
The Columbia effort’s program manager, Heather Cole, says Vision Zero is focused on “transportation design”.
“There are three basic philosophies that go along with that – that safety is the most important factor, that traffic deaths and severe injuries are preventable and that transportation systems should be designed so that a user error does not result in a fatality,” said Cole.
Each city designs its own Vision Zero program based on factors such as demographics and population. Columbia has chosen to categorize its approach through engineering, education and enforcement.
Cole says a goal set by the city council is to have zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries in Columbia by the year 2030. “We’re doing that, basically, in three-year action plan chunks. Our first action plan, we’ve broken down in three years, and we’ve broken it down into those key categories of engineering, education and enforcement.”
The Columbia program is funded for the first three years by a $171,000 budget provided through the city council.
According to Cole, the flagship program in Sweden has set the standard for U.S. cities to strive for. “They have 10 years of data that shows even though they have increasing population and traffic volume, they still showed 73% reduction in fatalities and a 50% reduction in pedestrian fatalities.”
Among the three general session presentations being offered Friday morning before the conference adjourns is “Marijuana’s Impact Relating to Highway Safety & Law Enforcement”.
Cole says the three components of engineering, education and enforcement have proven to be effective ways to move the needle toward achieving the goal. Those same three categories are the focus of the 12 workshops taking place Thursday between 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- hOUR Program & application of program by other agencies
- Bike and pedestrian safety program
- The Confident Communicator – Developing Your Media Skills
- Child Passenger Safety
- Highway Safety Manual (HMS) Implementation
- Traffic Signal Timing
- Innovative Roundabouts/Intersections/Interchanges – How are they working?
- Safe Highway Work Zones
Evidence Based Traffic Enforcement StrategiesEnforcement:
- First Impact Graduated Drivers License (GDL) Program for Parents
- The Prescription Impaired Driver – Strengthening Your Case
- The Shocking Truth About Fatigued Law Enforcement Officers
The Highway Safety and Traffic Blueprint Conference is taking place at the Holiday Inn Executive Center 2200 Interstate 70 Dr SW, Columbia, MO. The event is sponsored by the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety and the Traffic and Safety Conference. The Conference Chairs are Charlie Nemmers of the University of Missouri, Michelle Gibler of ThinkFirst, John Miller of MoDOT Highway Safety and Traffic Blueprint and Bill Whitfield of MoDOT Highway Safety and Traffic Blueprint