Milken Institute SPH Expert Testifies Before D.C. Council on Road Safety

This year, 21 people have been killed in road traffic crashes in Washington, D.C. In an effort to make the city’s roads safer, the D.C. Council Committee on Transportation and Environment held a public hearing on Oct. 24 to discuss local road safety measures that could protect drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.

Nino Paichadze, MD, MPH, an assistant research professor of global health at Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH), testified before the D.C. Council at the hearing in support of the Vision Zero Enhancement Omnibus Amendment Act of 2019. The proposed bill, introduced in May, focuses on improving sidewalks, crosswalks and intersections and creating additional bicycle-protected lanes throughout D.C. The proposed bill includes guidance for the D.C. Department of Transportation and other entities to lower speed limits on arterial and local roads, create stronger infrastructure, better enforcement of existing driving, parking and pedestrian laws; and plans to improve public transportation that can ultimately reduce car traffic.

Paichadze’s work focuses on analyzing data related to key road safety risk factors, monitoring and evaluating road safety interventions, and contributing to policy changes and measurable improvements in road safety in developing countries. In her testimony, Paichadze said the proposed bill was “of utmost importance for achieving the goal of the District of Columbia’s Vision Zero Initiative of eliminating road traffic injuries and fatalities by 2024.”

Paichadze included evidence of how laws that reduce speed limits, add sidewalks and protected bike lanes, and repair critical infrastructure have helped other cities reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries in the U.S. and globally. She noted that the proposed bill could be improved by adding measures to fully prohibit talking or texting on cell phones while driving.

“By adopting this legislation, the proposed proven safety measures will help make improvements in infrastructure faster, roads safer for vulnerable road users, and enhance quality of life for residents and visitors of the District,” said Paichadze, who is also associate director of the school’s newly formed Center on Commercial Determinants of Health.

The Center on Commercial Determinants of Health, which studies factors that contribute to health disparities, is directed by Adnan Hyder, MD, MPH, PhD, senior associate dean for research and professor of global health at Milken Institute SPH. An internationally recognized expert on road safety, Hyder has conducted significant research on the epidemiology, consequences and social impact of road traffic injuries worldwide. In 2018, he called on sustainable action to make roadways worldwide safer in a commentary published in The Lancet Public Health.