Charlotte, N.C. (Nov. 20, 2022) – The City of Charlotte commemorated lives lost on city streets through a World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims event on Sunday.
This year's World Day of Remembrance expressed extra urgency as the number of people dying and severely injured in preventable traffic crashes in the U.S. is rising at an alarming rate. In 2021, 42,060 people died in traffic crashes in the U.S. according to
National Safety Council (NSC) estimates. And 2022 is shaping up to be even more deadly, with
an estimated 7% increase in people killed for the same quarter in 2021.
"While Charlotte's fatal crashes are currently down by 32%, we cannot bring back the lives that have already been lost to traffic violence," said Transportation Director Debbie Smith. "Today we honor each and every life taken too soon while traveling on our roads, we acknowledge this day of remembrance, and we publicly recommit our efforts alongside the community to increase safety, health and mobility for all road users."
Communities across the U.S. organized events to urge change at the local and state levels—including lowering speed limits and re-designing roads to safely welcome people walking and bicycling.
Traffic violence is a preventable public health crisis. The Charlotte World Day of Remembrance event included an elevated shoe display representing each life lost on city streets from 2019 to 2021. Those attending the event also heard directly from family members affected by traffic violence, Charlotte Department of Transportation Director Debbie Smith, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings and Sustain Charlotte Executive Director Shannon Binns.
"One death on the road is one too many" said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings. "Listening to the stories from people who have lost loved ones, and understanding the trauma that these type of fatalities leave behind, we want to assure those families that CMPD remains committed to working together with community leaders to do what we can to make Charlotte a Vision Zero City."
The World Day of Remembrance is an
international event honoring the
1.35 million people killed and millions more injured on the world's roads each year and organizing for change to prevent such tragedies.
With the recent passage of the federal Infrastructure bill, we have a historic opportunity to direct billions of dollars towards fixing unsafe roads and improving walking and biking conditions—particularly for communities that have been traditionally underserved.
"We must redesign our streets for the safety of those most vulnerable and commit to making safety a higher priority than speed," said Shannon Binns, executive director of Sustain Charlotte. "We applaud the City of Charlotte's efforts to move in this direction and urge them to always prioritize their critical work of ensuring that our streets are safe for every person."
Across the globe, World Day of Remembrance efforts shared the overarching goals to remember, support and act. Smith specifically called on all residents to help in saving lives, specifically vulnerable road users who travel as pedestrians and bicyclists. She asked that residents put themselves in their shoes and asked for everyone to drive the speed limit, without distractions or the influence of substances.