South Fulton roadways could soon become safer thanks to federal grant

More than a dozen people died in traffic crashes in the state over the Independence Day weekend. Now, one metro Atlanta city wants to begin a new initiative that brings traffic-related deaths and serious injuries to zero.

It's called Vision Zero, first implemented in Europe, and now in place in 45 cities throughout the country, including some in Georgia.

Friday, the city of South Fulton will be discussing a grant proposal to start the initiative in their area.

"What does it look like if we are proactively looking to reduce these kinds of incidents on our roads," South Fulton Mayor Pro-Tem Natasha Williams-Brown explained. 

Williams-Brown said South Fulton has been working to improve safety at some notoriously dangerous intersections. It put up speed signs for example at Highway 138 and Bethsaida Road in April.

"Vision Zero is really taking the next step and taking all of these individual actions that we've done and really tying it together in a comprehensive way," according to Williams-Brown.

The city of Atlanta passed a Vision Zero ordinance in 2020 and kicked off their action plan in October 2022, which included changes like lower speed limits to 25 mph on community streets and adding 10,000 streetlights throughout the city.

"Being able to have the data and have the information really cues us up to be able to go after the resources that we need to be able to start doing the projects that are needed to make those locations safer," ATLDOT Mobility Planning Director Betty Smoot-Madison explained.

But does it work? According to the city of Austin, Texas, yes it does despite an increase in fatality crashes. It implemented the strategy in 2015, focusing on intersection safety, and told FOX 7 Austin last month it has seen improvements.

"We're seeing 30% reduction in crashes overall, but also 30% in the severe crashes that result in the serious injury or death," Lewis Leff with Austin's Vision Zero said.

And Atlanta city leaders say while the program is a multi-year process, it's the targeted approach that makes all the difference.

"Here's where pedestrian safety improvements needs to be made, here's where we need to make signal modifications. Here's where we may need to put in more protective measures," Smoot- Madison explained. 

The city of South Fulton's meeting about the federal grant funding for the initiative will begin at 4 p.m. Friday at City Hall.