SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The City of Savannah averages about 22 traffic deaths annually, whether it’s a pedestrian or cyclist-involved incident. City leaders recognize the problem and firmly believe it can be remedied.

WSAV spoke to Savannah city leaders about plans to minimize traffic deaths in the city, especially in the downtown area. It’s called the Vision Zero Action Plan. It forecasts zero traffic deaths by 2027.

“We can build in to correct the misbehaviors of human behavior,” said Jay Melder, Savannah City Manager. “That if we can put in and build an environment and engineering, the kinds of streets and roadways and transportations and transit systems and connectivity that are going to decrease the likelihood of a collision.”

City leaders say that changes can be made to encourage better human behavior and they forecast a drastic drop in traffic deaths. That’s if the city receives funds from a $5 billion federal grant they applied for on Wednesday night.

“We put in about totals up to $23 million,” Melder said. “There are two main components of that grant; one is the intersection at 37 and MLK, which is historically one of our most dangerous intersections.”  

The other component would be to fund the Tide To Town project – an initiative that aims to connect 75 percent of savannah neighborhoods to safe walking and biking infrastructure.

While residents liked what they heard, the tourist component still needs to be considered because they are unfamiliar with our streets.

“The keystone of vision zero is traffic enforcement,” said alderman Nick Palumbo. “It is heavy traffic enforcement. It is ticketing. It’s getting out there and is far more aggressive than what we’re seeing in savannah right now. There will be pushback from motorists.”