Bike riders enter the intersection at 10th and Monroe Drive from the Beltline on their way to City Hall following a gathering calling for change to the intersection on Feb. 15, 2016, after a Grady High School freshman was hit and killed while riding her bicycle. JOHN SPINK /JSPINK@AJC.COM

Opinion: All candidates should push to lower ‘traffic violence’

Traffic violence is a national epidemic that kills nearly 40,000 people and injures 3 million a year. That is approximately 100 Americans killed every day — the equivalent of a regional plane crashing — and 8,200 injured daily.

My daughter Alexia was one of the 100 Americans who died in a traffic crash on February 12th, 2016. She was killed while cycling home after a performance at Grady High School where the audience laughed at her clever performance and marveled at her wonderful voice. Alexia was an honor student and freshman who loved her school and this city. She had a dynamic energy that touched everyone who met her. She was fearless, always ready for karaoke, and would never tolerate injustice in her presence. She always had vibrantly colored hair and it matched her spirit. Her life was a bright candle whose light was extinguished too soon, to the great loss and void of those who had been blessed to know her.

After losing Alexia, I was devastated, lost and hopeless. Then I learned that her death could have been prevented and it brought me hope. I learned about Vision Zero, was able to see how effective it was, and the hope grew. By implementing proven solutions, we can prevent crashes and the senseless carnage on our streets. I have been fighting since her death to see those changes implemented and save lives.

Today, I will be joining other family members to announce the creation of the Atlanta chapter of Families for Safe Streets — to demand action from our city, state and federal leaders.

Here in Atlanta, we have taken some steps forward. I am proud that our city leadership has committed to adopt Vision Zero and to eliminate all traffic fatalities and serious injuries. Everyone deserves to navigate our streets safely — walking, biking, and driving. It should not be a deadly act to travel throughout our city.

While making change locally is critically important, we also need strong leadership at the top if we ever are to achieve Vision Zero.

It is time for those who would lead our nation to step up and speak out against families and communities being torn apart due to this preventable public health crisis. We at Families for Safe Streets demand that every U.S. presidential candidate end the silence on traffic violence. There are nearly two dozen presidential candidates and not a single one is talking about this epidemic or how together we can solve it.

We need every candidate — Republican, Democrat and Independent — to put forth a plan to end the epidemic of traffic violence.

All Americans deserve safe and dignified transportation options to travel freely without harm. Everyone deserves to grow up and live life to the fullest without fear that they or someone they love will be killed in a preventable traffic crash. All Americans deserve a national leader who will put an end to the senseless carnage on our roads and confront the silent killer in our midst.

Today we will stand outside the Democratic debate venue and demand action.

Everyone in Families for Safe Streets has been personally impacted by traffic violence. We are survivors, mothers, fathers, siblings, spouses, children, and grandparents who have buried our dead and mourned our losses. We have suffered life-altering injuries. Our lives have all changed in an instant because of a preventable traffic crash. We demand action so no more families need to experience the tragedy and heartbreak we, and hundreds of thousands of Americans, have gone through.

I can tell you with confidence having lost my daughter Alexia, one death is too many. We need our leaders to end the silence on traffic violence and make America a world leader on traffic safety. The price is too high not to act.

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