Starting next week, drivers in Portland and Seattle will regularly see street signs, billboards, bus advertisements and social media posts reminding them to slow down.
The new campaign’s slogan is “Slow the Herd Down,” using bird-related state imagery and bright blue coloring designed by Seattle’s Department of Transportation. Launched in partnership with the Portland Bureau of Transportation, the campaign will remind Portland drivers to obey the speed limit in Seattle, by announcing the 25 mph speed limit on most thoroughfares.
PBOT has allocated $120,000 for the campaign, which will run over the next two months. The money will come from the city’s cannabis tax, according to PBOT spokeswoman Hannah Schafer.
Both cities are part of the Vision Zero Network, a national campaign with ten “target cities” launched in 2016 with the aim of eliminating road deaths. But the subtle differences in the campaigns highlight an important political distinction: Portland doesn’t have a “drive 25” law like Seattle. Schafer attributes the lack of the same rule in Portland to a difference in the process of reducing speed limits in the two states. WW has previously looked at what critics call a failure by City Hall to aggressively reduce traffic speeds.
Nationally, according to the US Department of Transportation, 30% of all road deaths are speed-related. In Portland, speed is often a major factor in fatalities on the roads. And the timing is more relevant than ever – in 2021, according to Vision Zero Portland, which maintains a Portland-area accident dashboard, there were 63 total road deaths, the highest number since in less than a decade.
Seattle is also a Vision Zero city, and the program, which tracks crash data to predict and minimize risk factors and aims to end deaths and serious injuries on city roads by 2030. two cities are part of the international Vision Zero network. since 2016.
“Crashes aren’t inevitable, that’s what we’re trying to say,” Schafer says of Vision Zero’s overall goal. “We’re not talking about accidents, we’re talking about collisions. And the reason we say that is because a crash is not an accident, a crash is not inevitable.”
Portland residents will have the opportunity to pick up yard signs displaying the new messages from the Portland building and a few other locations beginning July 18 and at various public events this summer, Schafer said. There will also be billboards in Portland’s 30 highest crash lanes and a social media campaign.
Although it is a public information campaign and therefore harder to track its success, Schafer says the initiative is one of many steps the office is taking to reduce deaths and serious injuries due to traffic in the city.
“I don’t think anyone would say that a public safety message is the key to ending traffic accidents and deaths,” Schafer says. “It’s just one piece of the broader education and engineering and other work we’re doing around the city to help people be safer on our roads.”