PBOT presents Vision Zero fatalities report and action plan to City Council on Wednesday

Press Release
The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) will present two reports on traffic safety to the Portland City Council on Wednesday.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) will present two reports on traffic safety to the Portland City Council on Wednesday, in a call for more collaboration across bureaus and community partners to reduce traffic deaths and serious injuries. 

PBOT's Director and leaders from several key bureaus and community partners will present to Portland's City Council on Wednesday, April 17 at 2 p.m. Leaders with the Portland Police Bureau, Portland Fire & Rescue, and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability -- as well as other community and government partners --- will discuss the efforts needed from across many disciplines to make our streets safer.  

PBOT will present findings from a recent rise in traffic crashes and an action plan that shows what PBOT is committing to do to reduce traffic deaths.  

Mayor Ted Wheeler and Transportation Commissioner Mingus Mapps are co-sponsoring a resolution that asks council to: 

“This year’s report is a stark reminder of the urgent work that lies ahead. The Vision Zero Action Plan and the collaborative efforts it outlines are crucial to reducing the unacceptable number of traffic deaths and serious injuries on our streets,” Mayor Wheeler said. “Every life lost is a tragedy that resonates through our community, underscoring my commitment to making Portland’s roads safer for everyone. I commend the meaningful work of the many partners that drive this initiative forward. Together, we can achieve a safer Portland.” 

Vision Zero in orange, bolded text in an orange circle split in two at an angle.

"It has been heart-wrenching to see the increase in the number of people – our neighbors, our parents, children, siblings, colleagues, and loved ones – killed in traffic crashes in Portland," Commissioner Mapps said. "What we know is that where we have invested in traffic safety, we have seen success. To make more progress on our Vision Zero goal, we need further collaboration across bureaus and community partners to make our streets safer."

"PBOT can design safe streets, but we cannot reach our safety goals by focusing on street design alone," PBOT Director Millicent Williams said. "Ending traffic deaths depends significantly on traffic enforcement and the efforts by government and community partners. This includes important work to provide social services, mental health treatment, drug and alcohol addiction services, housing services, investments in state highways and facilities. It also depends on every single person in our community making a commitment to traveling safely."

"The Portland Police Bureau is a long-time supporter of Vision Zero," Deputy Chief Mike Frome said. "PPB is committed to working with PBOT and other partner bureaus to educate the community in order to prevent deadly and serious injury crashes across our city."

"Portland Fire remains committed to Vision Zero and the goal of eliminating traffic fatalities in our community," Fire Chief Ryan Gillespie said. "As first responders we see the devastating impact these incidents have on our community members and we look forward to continue working with our Bureau partners to create safer streets for all Portlanders."

Council will take public testimony at the meeting. See the City Council agenda for the 2 p.m. April 17 session and find instructions on how to submit written testimony or testify in person or virtually at the City Council agenda website

Not just numbers:
People killed in traffic crashes in 2023

First names of 2023 crash victims and approximate location of crash

Map of Portland noting where 2023 fatal crashes occurred and the first names of victims, where available. 

If names are known and publicly released, the first name of traffic death victims are placed in the approximate crash locations on the map. If names are not known and/or publicly released, a white dot marks the approximate place where a traffic death occurred. The illustrated information is based on preliminary data and subject to change. Source: Portland Police Bureau. 

Report shows record traffic deaths 

On Wednesday, PBOT will present a new report on the latest trends in traffic deaths.  

More people died on Portland streets in 2023 than in any other year in at least three decades, according to the Portland 2023 Deadly Traffic Crash Report. A record total of 69 people died in traffic crashes in 2023, surpassing the previous high set in 2021.  

The high number of deaths in 2023 corresponds with a steep increase in traffic fatalities across Oregon and the nation since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Since 2020, PBOT has seen an increase in egregious travel behaviors among people using the streets, coinciding with widespread, severe social challenges in the community. In 2023, about half of traffic deaths involved unusual and flagrant behaviors that suggest a disregard for self and others. Similar trends have occurred statewide and nationally. 

Some examples of these behaviors in Portland in 2023 include an increase in driving freeway speeds on local streets, street racing, fleeing crime scenes, and impairment multiple times over the legal limit. Social challenges include increased risk for people living unhoused, mental health crisis, gun violence, and addiction all contributing to an increase in number of deadly crashes in our community. 

Traffic deaths by year in Portland

Chart showing number of traffic deaths by mode of travel 2019-2023

This chart from the Portland 2023 Deadly Traffic Crash Report shows the number of traffic deaths by year, with figures for each mode of transportation.  

Record death toll: The death toll on Portland streets surpassed 2021’s three-decade high, rising from 64 to 69. The average over 2018–2021 was 50 traffic deaths per year, ranging from 35 in 2018 to 63 in 2021.

Persistent trends 

It takes years for patterns to emerge, but the data available for 2023 appear to point to several persistent trends: 

High crash corridors: 74% of traffic deaths occurred on Portland’s high crash corridors, which consistently account for most of the deaths and serious injuries in Portland.  We will continue to invest in street design changes to improve safety on these streets. 

Speeding: Speed continues to be a leading factor in deadly crashes in Portland.  More than half of the traffic deaths in Portland involve people driving well above posted speed limits. In 2023, 40 out of 69 traffic deaths involved speeding or excessive speeds, as noted by crash investigators.  

Pedestrians overrepresented: Since 2020, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of pedestrian deaths compared to the three years prior. An average of 16 pedestrians were killed annually between 2018 and 2020, compared to an average of 26 pedestrians in the past three years (2021-2023). 

Impaired driving: Drivers under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs remains a common factor in deadly crashes. For crashes where the driver’s intoxication is known, 47% were fatal. (There is a significant delay in this data as police and medical examiner investigations are ongoing.) 

Living unhoused: Community members experiencing houselessness are disproportionately impacted by traffic violence. They comprise less than 1% of Multnomah County's population yet made up 19% of traffic deaths in Portland in 2023 and 12 of the 24 pedestrian deaths. 

PBOT's safety improvements, speed enforcement and speed limit reductions show signs of progress

A pedestrian uses the crosswalk at a new protected intersection in SE Portland

A new protected intersection in Southeast Portland designed to shorten the crossing distance and improve safety for people walking, biking, and rolling. With funding and public support, PBOT can expand such infrastructure improvements on other high crash corridors. Photo by PBOT.

Despite the high number of deaths, the City of Portland's Vision Zero efforts, led by PBOT, show signs of progress in making the kinds of improvements that national studies show will make our streets safer: 

  • Reduce speed limits: Portland has aggressively reduced speed limits the last eight years. Safe travel speeds lower the risk of crashes; when crashes do occur, safe speeds make it less likely that people are killed or seriously injured. The World Health Organization recommends that urban speed limits should not exceed about 30 mph and PBOT’s speed limit setting directive states that “most posted speed limits in Portland should be 20 to 25 miles per hour.”  
  • Multimodal improvements: PBOT’sSE Hawthorne Boulevard evaluation report results indicate that two recent PBOT road redesign projects led to lower vehicle speeds -- reducing the number of vehicles traveling more than 10 mph over the speed limit by 72%. In addition, they have led to faster buses, and better facilities for pedestrians and people biking and taking transit, while minimally impacting driving times for people who drive.  
  • Safer street design: PBOT, with support from partners, completed safer street designs on SW Capitol Highway and lighting, striping, and signage on SE 82nd Avenue.  
  • Enforce safe driving: PBOT installed eight new speed and intersection safety cameras at and along the highest-crash streets and intersections across the city. In total, the city will soon operate 40 safety cameras throughout Portland. Speed safety cameras have shown a 93% reduction in top end speeding on the corridors where they are located.  
  • Federal partnerships: The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded PBOT $33.8 million to fund safety improvements on 122nd Avenue in East Portland and the Burgard Bridge in North Portland.  

Take action now to eliminate traffic deaths

There are simple actions everyone can take now to help PBOT eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries in Portland:   

There are simple actions everyone can take now to help PBOT eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries in Portland:   

  • Drive at or below the speed limit    
  • Watch for pedestrians crossing the street 
  • Walk, bike, roll, or take transit to get where you need to go 
  • Be alert and be courteous towards other travelers 
  • Get a ride for a friend if they’ve consumed alcohol or drugs  
  • Never pass school buses or vehicles stopped at crosswalks 
  • Share free Vision Zero materials with your network and community    
  • Say “crash” not accident to change the broad cultural perception that crashes are inevitable 
  • Pick up a free Vision Zero yard sign
  • Sign up for Vision Zero email updates

Learn more about the City of Portland’s Vision Zero program at the PBOT Vision Zero website.


The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is the steward of the City’s transportation system, and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility. Learn more at www.portland.gov/transportation