Cops, Cameras, and “Safe Systems”: The Debate About Curbing Traffic Violence on Portland’s Streets

Iannarone noted “speed, impairment, and distraction” contribute to over 90 percent of vehicle crashes in the United States.

“Safe systems” for a public health crisis

To Iannarone and other advocates, enforcement mechanisms and calls to action aren’t enough for a “transformation” of Portland’s transportation system. They call for a “safe systems” approach to preventing traffic crashes, which revolves around designing streets that account for individual mistakes like reckless or drunk driving.

The approach is utilized by programs like Vision Zero, which aims to stop all traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets. The city of Portland committed to the Vision Zero pledge in 2015, but traffic crashes have only increased in that time.

A recent Multnomah County Public Health Data Report looking at the county’s traffic-related fatality trends also calls for such an approach.