One City Has Had No Traffic Deaths in Seven Years – Daylighting Explained

( – Tens of thousands of people die in traffic accidents every year. Whether it’s distracted driving, low visibility, or weather-related, it’s a real issue. It’s more dangerous to travel by car than it is to fly. One US city, however, has shown what happens when the city takes the right steps to reduce accidents.

Hoboken, New Jersey, a city of nearly 60,000 people, has gone seven years without a traffic fatality. It could set the tone for other major US cities.

A Devastating Catalyst for Change

In 2015, Agnes Accera, an 89-year-old woman in Hoboken, died as she was crossing the street. A vehicle struck her, killing her. Her death became an inspiration for Ravi Bhalla, who later ran for mayor and won the seat. When he did, he brought change with him.

Bhalla adopted a concept known as Vision Zero to try to eliminate unnecessary and avoidable deaths, like that of Accera’s. The city implemented safety measures, such as staggered traffic lights and lower speed limits, but one major focus — daylighting — is also helping.

What Is Vision Zero?

Vision Zero is a concept that originated in Sweden in the 1990s and has been successful throughout Europe. Simply put, it’s a set of guidelines aimed at eliminating severe injuries and fatalities from traffic accidents. Proponents of the road safety project believe that there is no unavoidable accident and they take the steps to enact such guidelines and save lives.

What Does Daylighting Mean?

Daylighting is a safety measure that eliminates obstacles that can cause visibility issues while driving, particularly at an intersection. The idea is to block off space ahead of a crosswalk or intersection so drivers and pedestrians can see each other and avoid dangerous collisions.

The way Hoboken implemented daylighting is by removing parking spaces close to intersections and then filling that space — where cars would often park regardless — with barriers to prevent it from happening. These include concrete structures that add functional elements like bike racks, rain garden planters, or benches. While some have complained about the disappearance of parking spaces, it’s clear that it is working for the city.

Now, there’s a movement in several large cities in the US to do the same. In The Big Apple, for example, Mayor Eric Adams is committed to widening curbs and has promised to incorporate daylighting on at least 1,000 intersections. Baltimore and San Francisco, among others, have also taken steps in that direction.

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