Osceola County Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to adopt a strategy designed to eliminate traffic fatalities on county roads by increasing safety, health, and equitable mobility for all on County roads by 2040.

The Vision Zero Action Plan is part of a multi-national road traffic safety initiative that aims to achieve a highway system with no fatalities or serious injuries involving road traffic. It started in Sweden and uses an approach focused on spending on infrastructure as a benefit of decreasing risk.

“The fundamental idea of this program is simple — saving lives means reducing speeds and decreasing the chance for collisions,” said Osceola Commission Chairman Brandon Arrington. “I’m excited for the next steps as we take this opportunity to analyze and improve our heavily traveled corridors that are dominated by the automobile. This is a way to look at creating practical infrastructure for walking, bicycling and transit use in the context of the Vision Zero philosophy that has proved to be effective in making transportation systems safer.”

Chairman Arrington noted that across the United States, traffic deaths and injuries disproportionately impact pedestrian, cyclists, people of color, low-income households, older adults and youth, people with disabilities and households with limited vehicle access. The Central Florida region consistently ranks in the top five in terms of dangerous places to walk and bike according to Smart Grown America’s “Dangerous by Design” reports.

Osceola County wants to decrease the frequency of bicycle crashes as part of the program. From 2018-2021, there were a total of 517 pedestrian and 358 bicycle crashes, an average of more than one every two days.

Operation Best Foot Forward, which is administrated by Bike Walk Central Florida, partners with organizations in Central Florida, including Osceola County, to improve Central Florida streets for all through law enforcement operations, ongoing evaluations, and the implementation of engineering solutions. Their goal is to educate Central Florida motorists about their role in protecting road users, pedestrians, and bicyclists.

“We have some of the most dangerous roads in Central Florida, we’re actually known for that unfortunately, so having this education process for individuals so they understand when they’re supposed to stop to keep our pedestrians safe and our bicyclists safe as well is so important, Osceola County Commissioner For District 4 Cheryl Grieb.

To implement the Vision Zero plan, the county will conduct a comprehensive analysis of traffic deaths and injuries in Osceola County to create an action plan for the Commission’s approval. The plan will address traffic deaths and serious injuries through a combination of engineering, enforcement, education and evaluation.

FDOT District 5 is one of the fastest-growing areas of the state and also includes – Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Marion, Orange, Seminole, Sumter, Volusia counties. The only other Vision Zero county in Florida is Hillsborough, according to the organization’s website. The program is more widely adopted among cities, including Orlando, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach in Florida.

“The Department commends the Board of Osceola County Commissioners for this step being taking today to help eliminate fatalities in Osceola County. It is one step in many collective efforts that need to occur, but it is an important one. This plan is telling Osceola County residents, visitors, and other agencies that their lives matter and the county will do everything it can to bring fatalities on roadways to zero,” said Loreen Bobo, FDOT District 5 Safety Administrator.