In December, Washington, D.C., became the latest American city to release a Vision Zero policy aimed at eliminating traffic fatalities. It’s an impressive action plan that says the right things about designing safer streets, implementing new regulations, and codifying laws that prioritize “the most vulnerable travelers”—especially pedestrians. The District already does fairly well, with just 26 deaths in 2015, and its goal of zero by 2024 seems totally within reach.
This week, at a conference of transportation professionals, Jonathan M. Rogers of the District DOT, described one of the plan’s most promising elements: the use of data to predict trouble spots. In the past, he explained, officials relied on historical crash statistics to locate hazardous intersections—a reactive approach that essentially waits for bad things to happen. Vision Zero will use a “predictive risk model” that pushes the city to act before it’s too late.