Documentary Shows the Choices that Led to Deadly StreetsBreaking News
tags: documentaries, urban history, safety, automobiles, urban planning, highways, Traffic
“The Street Project,” a new documentary premiering on PBS International and Amazon Prime Video on Aug. 25, starts almost like a true crime thriller. People are getting killed on American streets at an alarming rate. The filmmakers set out to determine what’s behind it.
And then, an immediate spoiler: It’s not the fault of distracted pedestrians. “We assumed people must be staring at their cell phones and wandering into traffic,” the narrator says. “We were wrong.”
Over the course of the rest of the 50-minute film, viewers discover the true culprits — among them, road design that favors automobiles at the expense of other users — and more importantly, meet the global community of advocates who are working to make streets safer.
“The Street Project” is a follow-up to director and executive producer Jennifer Boyd’s 2018 film, “3 Seconds Behind the Wheel,” in which she monitored how people’s attention could wander while driving. In this film, she wanted to look outside the car itself to other factors driving the rise in traffic violence, which has worsened dramatically in the US: Preventable bicycle fatalities increased more than 40% between 2010 and 2020, according to the National Safety Council, and preliminary 2021 data from the Governors Highway Safety Association showed that last year saw 7,485 pedestrian fatalities, the most in 40 years.
Despite her assumptions going into filming, Boyd says “distraction — at least outside-of-the-car distraction — has nothing to do with this issue.” Instead, “it has everything to do with street design, speed, the way our vehicles are designed, and all sorts of other interesting factors,” she said.