Seattle will soon get the funds to invest in making our streets safer. According to news reports, the city will get $25.6 million from the federal government as part of the Safe Streets and Roads for All program of grants.
The grants, which will go to many local governments, are earmarked for programs that are designed to reduce the number of traffic accidents. In Seattle, the grant will provide for new bike lanes, sidewalks, speed bumps, intersection improvements and more.
Washington’s U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell announced the grants in January. The money comes from the massive $1.2 trillion infrastructure law passed by Congress last year. All told, Washington is set to receive well over $7 billion from the bill.
Many Washington state safety advocates will say the funding is much needed.
In recent years, statistics have shown that traffic accidents in the Seattle area are worrisomely high, espeically in certain densely populated areas. Of particular concern are accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists.
A Seattle Times report last year found that just 7% of traffic accidents in the metropolitan area involved pedestrians and bicyclists, but these accidents accounted for 61% of all traffic fatalities in the area.
While most of us in the Seattle area will welcome traffic safety improvements, it’s unlikely that the streets will become 100% safe from traffic accidents. There’s only so much careful pedestrians and bicyclists can do to protect themselves from careless drivers.
And, as the statistics above demonstrate, pedestrians and bicyclists are extremely vulnerable in any collision with a motor vehicle. Many experience severe injury or death.
When these accidents are caused by a driver’s negligence, the injured and their families may have the right to hold the negligent driver liable for their damages.