What will it take to curb traffic violence in St. Louis?
Multiple cases of traffic violence have once again grabbed headlines in St. Louis. Late last month, a teenage athlete lost her legs in a crash. Just days later, a hit-and-run at the intersection of South Grand Boulevard and Forest Park Avenue left four people dead and four others injured.
But for Tiffanie Stanfield, the issue has been top of mind since her sister Jameca Niya Stanfield was killed by a hit-and-run driver while walking at a crosswalk on April 12, 2016.
“I want us to finally pay attention to something that has been plaguing our city, believe it or not, for over 10 years. If anything, it’s gotten worse,” Stanfield said. “I pray for calmness, and I pray for peace for all of those families that are enduring right now.”
Stanfield established Fighting H.A.R.D. after her sister’s death to raise awareness about hit-and-run driving and provide resources to those affected.
“I'm hoping that this heightened awareness is going to put this topic in front of the right people that can make some strong decisions about enforcement, and infrastructure, and lighting and tougher penalties,” she said.
On Wednesday, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones signed into law a plan to use at least $40 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds toward traffic-calming measures. The plan also puts $3.5 million toward improving safety at the top 10 crash locations in the city, with plans to install a greenway in north St. Louis and improve sidewalks.
“The timing of the bill signing was, in some ways, just coincidental with these most recent tragedies that have been happening,” said Scott Ogilvie, Complete Streets program manager for the City of St. Louis. “The mood at the bill signing event yesterday really reflected the heaviness of what's been happening.”
The law also allocates $1.25 million for a mobility and transportation master plan — the first of its kind for the city.
“That's going to do a lot of things for us,” Ogilvie said. “I think most importantly, it's going to establish a vision in St. Louis for what our transportation system should look like in the future. Within that, I think there's going to be lots of opportunities to engage with the public and think about ways we provide better driver education and more awareness for the responsibility that drivers have when they're operating vehicles on the roadway that, of course, can really hurt and kill the people around them.”
Ogilvie joined Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air to discuss efforts to make the region’s streets safer. Also joining the discussion was NextSTL editor Richard Bose, who writes about what has led to such a high rate of traffic fatalities in St. Louis and how roadways in St. Louis County could be better designed to prevent pedestrian deaths.
This conversation on traffic violence and the push for safer streets is one of many — and we plan to stay on this topic in the weeks and months to come. What would you like us to consider in future discussions? Call and leave us a voicemail at 314-516-6397, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or share your thoughts via our St. Louis on the AirFacebook group.
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to email@example.com.