City leaders stood beside the Mayor last week as he released a Two-Year Action Strategy for achieving Vision Zero, the goal to eliminate all traffic fatalities and serious injuries in San Francisco by 2024. As part of the strategy, the Mayor and the SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Director, Ed Reiskin, announced a Large Vehicle Driver Training program that will launch this year.
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, alongside our Vision Zero Coalition partner Walk San Francisco, is proud to be working with the City to ensure the Large Vehicle Driver Training Program addresses the major concerns of people biking and walking.
Driver training is not something new to our work. Over the last three years, we have developed a comprehensive Driver Training and Outreach program, which already includes all new and renewing taxi drivers each year (over 1,000 trained in 2014 alone), nearly 500 Recology drivers and several private shuttle operators. These trainings are critical, as according to the SFMTA, professional drivers and large vehicles account for 4% of traffic collisions but 17% of all bicycle and pedestrian deaths.
We’ve been advocating for the City to launch a Large Vehicle Driver Training program since 2013, and are excited to now be working with the SFMTA and Walk San Francisco to develop standards and guidelines for companies that operate fleets of large vehicles. These guidelines will cover best practices for driving on city streets around people biking and walking. Together with the City we are also currently creating a training video that will be available to the public to train drivers of large vehicles as well as other professional drivers, such as taxicabs and City drivers.
The Large Vehicle Driver Training program will cover key topics such as:
- Best practices for driving on busy, urban streets
- Understanding bicycle and pedestrian safety infrastructure
- Safe turning around bike lanes and crosswalks
- California Vehicle Code and Rules of the Road
- Blind spot awareness and distracted driving
In order to best develop this project, a working group of various City agencies and regional partners gave input and technical assistance including: the SF Public Utilities Commission, SF Public Works, SF General Services Agency, SF Recreation and Parks Department, the California Trucking Association, Recology and several other private companies. This working group has focused on using their areas of expertise to make sure the program’s guidelines are strong and effective enough to save lives.
Over the next several months, the SF Bicycle Coalition and Walk San Francisco will reach out to private companies and ask them to commit to incorporating this training – or a program that meets the same standards and guidelines – into their ongoing training of their drivers. The goal is to get this critical safety information to as many people as possible who utilize our busy street network. The program is expected to go live later this year.
We are grateful to the Mayor and other City leaders for taking steps toward realizing Vision Zero with the Two-Year Action Strategy, and we look forward to continue working with the SFMTA and WalkSF to develop and implement the Large Vehicle Driver Training Program.
If you are interested in getting your company involved and committed to safer streets, please contact us.