(The Center Square) – Data from the Seattle Department of Transportation shows that despite its efforts to end traffic fatalities and serious injuries, the number of serious traffic injuries continued to increase to an all-time high in 2023.

Fatalities on Seattle streets peaked in 2021 with 31 deaths, but since then has seen a modest drop to 27 deaths in 2023.

While traffic deaths have fallen, serious injuries on Seattle streets continue to go up across all categories. In 2023 there were approximately 250 serious traffic injuries, according to a recent presentation. The previous record for the most number of serious injuries was 241 in 2006.

“These trends, while give us hope, also indicate that we have a lot more work ahead of us,” Seattle Department of Transportation Chief Safety Officer Venu Nemani said in a committee meeting on Tuesday.

The SODO region had the highest share of fatal and serious injury crashes from 2018-2022

The city’s Vision Zero program supports implementation of safety elements by redesigning streets to emphasize safety, predictability, multimodal mobility and potential for accommodating human error. The program is aiming to end traffic deaths and injuries in Seattle by 2030.

During the committee meeting, Seattle City Councilmember Dan Strauss said he was seriously injured in a traffic incident back in 2004 that left him with chronic pain he still has.

“There are twice as many people as your data shows that are living with serious and chronic pain from being hit on our roadways,” Strauss said to Nemani. “We can not wait for lives to be lost – we can’t even wait for serious injuries.”

Strauss noted a roll over collision at an intersection in his district that residents have requested roundabouts be installed for over two years and the data was not present on the Vision Zero Program update.

Last year, the transportation department was able to implement no turn on red restrictions at 73 intersections; install leading pedestrian intervals at 101 intersections; and establish a partnership with Sound Transit and completed priority safety improvements along MLK Jr Way South.

The department received a $25.7 million federal grant to help fund the safety improvements and the city will provide another $6.4 million through 2027 to complete the program. The 2024 proposed budget includes $4.4 million for the safety improvements.

According to Nemani, the Vision Zero program’s “aggressive” three-year action plan to implement safety improvements citywide is currently in its final stages of development and anticipates the plan to be published next month.