The Swedish Parliament initiated Vision Zero in 1997 and it has since spread around the world. The idea is that we don’t have to accept roadway crashes, that cause serious injuries and fatalities, as normal or inevitable “accidents”. Crashes are not accidents and they can and should be avoided. We have a responsibility to create roadways that are engineered to accommodate for mistakes, to have enforcement that contributes to a culture of following the rules of the road, and to have education so everyone knows how to safely share the road and has a fundamental understanding of why it’s so important.
Vision Zero is a bold statement that we can and must put safety first. Beyond a statement, Vision Zero must be a policy and program with specific actions to achieve the bold vision.
- Engineering – Vision Zero means the transportation department is studying every traffic injury and death to determine the contributing factors, coming with prioritized, specific counter-measures (ex: safety crossing medians to create safer crossings for people walking, speed humps to reduce drivers speeding, bike lanes to provide separation for people on bikes), and finally making sure their is the funding and follow-thru to implement the counter-measures with the speed and urgency like life depends on it.
- Enforcement – Vision Zero means that enforcement is in place to deter people from breaking traffic laws and putting others in danger. Similar to engineering, enforcement should be based on an understanding of where and how people are getting killed and injured and specifically designed to deter the known dangerous behaviors (ex: speed enforcement cameras on a street where speeding as a track record of contributing to injuring and killing people).
- Education – Vision Zero means that there is education so that safe driving, biking, and walking is the norm and basic expectation. Education should be involved and re-occurring to ensure that everyone on the road is thinking about how their action will prevent a crash and keep others safe.
Learn more about what is happening nationwide Vision Zero Network, which is committed to helping communities reach their goal of Vision Zero — eliminating all traffic fatalities and severe injuries — while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all.