INDIANAPOLIS – Several Indiana lawmakers are looking at a new approach to reduce the rising number of traffic fatalities across the state.

Senate Bill 233 would create a “Vision Zero Task Force” focusing on improving safety across Indiana roadways. The idea already exists in several places nationwide and even worldwide. The name “zero” comes from the vision of eliminating traffic fatalities.

“People have been killed on our roadways in ways that are preventable,” said State Senator Andrea Hunley, the bill’s author.

The number of Hoosiers killed in car wrecks has been rising over the last decade. Preliminary state data shows around 970 people died from car crashes in 2022, which reached an all-time high up from nearly 780 ten years ago.

More than 130 pedestrians were killed in 2022. In Indianapolis alone, 40 pedestrians were killed last year.

“It’s important to know that 40 people is 40 too many,” Sen. Hunley said. “What the Vision Zero Task Force does is it looks at data, it looks at what’s working in other cities and states and municipalities not just in the US but around the world so we can reduce that number to zero.”

The group would study data and roadways to help implement safety improvements across the state, as well as boost driver education. Hunley said some states have already successfully launched a similar task force.

“When they studied their roadways, they found that 50% of their fatal crashes happened on 5% of their roadways,” she said. “And so that really allows you to target resources and target efforts.”

Hunley said she got the idea to propose the task force after hearing concerns from several of her former students and constituents, including the family of a young girl who was killed in a crosswalk in 2021.

Hunley said the number of traffic deaths continues to grow “exponentially,” many of them preventable.

“It was just in June on Highway 106, here in Indiana a gentleman crossed the center line and was killed in his car,” she said. “And again, these are preventable, but we have to look beyond just single users, single car users making their own changes and shifts.”

The task force would meet four times a year and file an annual report to the interim study committee on roads and transportation. The bill would also require the Indiana Department of Transportation to provide staff support for the task force.

Hunley said she also hopes the task force would be able to help Indiana become a better contender for federal grants in the future. At least seven local projects were just denied federal dollars after applying. Hunley hopes the bill would help change that.

Meanwhile, she said the bill has gathered quite a bit of support across the aisle.

“What’s really exciting is that when we are looking at an issue about safety it’s not a partisan issue,” Hunley said.