Vision Zero

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Vision Zero is a multi-national road traffic safety project that aims to achieve a highway system with no fatalities or serious injuries in road traffic. It started in Sweden and was approved by their parliament in October 1997.[1] A core principle of the vision is that 'Life and health can never be exchanged for other benefits within the society' rather than the more conventional comparison between costs and benefits, where a monetary value is placed on life and health, and then that value is used to decide how much money to spend on a road network towards the benefit of decreasing how much risk.[2]


Vision Zero is based on four principles:[3]

  • Ethics: Human life and health are paramount and take priority over mobility and other objectives of the road traffic system
  • Responsibility: providers and regulators of the road traffic system share responsibility with users;
  • Safety: road traffic systems should take account of human fallibility and minimize both the opportunities for errors and the harm done when they occur; and
  • Mechanisms for change: providers and regulators must do their utmost to guarantee the safety of all citizens; they must cooperate with road users; and all three must be ready to change to achieve safety.

Other principles were added to Vision Zero in order to ensure that motorists would comprehend the full extent of the movements purpose:[4]

  • Traffic deaths and injuries are preventable; therefore, none are acceptable.
  • ·People will make mistakes; the transportation system should be designed so those mistakes aren’t fatal.
  • ·Safety is the primary consideration in transportation decision-making.
  • Traffic safety solutions must be addressed holistically.

Speed limits[edit]

Vision Zero suggests the following "possible long term maximum travel speeds related to the infrastructure, given best practice in vehicle design and 100% restraint use".[5] These speeds are based on human and automobile limits. For example, the human tolerance for a pedestrian hit by a well-designed car is approximately 30 km/h. If a higher speed in urban areas is desired, the option is to separate pedestrian crossings from the traffic. If not, pedestrian crossings, or zones (or vehicles), must be designed to generate speeds of a maximum of 30 km/h. Similarly, the inherent safety of well-designed cars can be anticipated to be a maximum of 70 km/h in frontal impacts, and 50 km/h in side impacts. Speeds over 100 km/h can be tolerated if the infrastructure is designed to prevent frontal and side impacts.

Possible Maximum Travel Speeds
Type of infrastructure and traffic Possible travel speed (km/h)
Locations with possible conflicts between pedestrians and cars 30 km/h (19 mph)
Intersections with possible side impacts between cars 50 km/h (31 mph)
Roads with possible frontal impacts between cars, including rural roads[6] 70 km/h (43 mph)
Roads with no possibility of a side impact or frontal impact (only impact with the infrastructure) 100 km/h (62 mph)+

"Roads with no possibility of a side impact or frontal impact" are sometimes designated as Type 1 ( motorways/freeways/Autobahns ), Type 2 ("2+2 roads") or Type 3 ("2+1 roads").[7] These roadways have crash barriers separating opposing traffic, limited access, grade separation and prohibitions on slower and more vulnerable road users. Undivided rural roads can be quite dangerous even with speed limits that appear low by comparison. In 2012, German rural roads, which are generally limited to 100 km/h (62 mph), had a fatality rate of 7.6 deaths per billion-travel-kilometers, higher than the 5.1 rate on urban streets (generally limited to 50 km/h (31 mph)), and far higher than the autobahn rate of 1.7; autobahns carried 31% of motorized road traffic while accounting for 11% of Germany's traffic deaths.[8]



In the Netherlands, the sustainable safety approach differs from Vision Zero in that it acknowledges that in the majority of accidents humans are to blame, and that roads should be designed to be "self-explaining" thus reducing the likelihood of crashes. Self-explaining roads are easy to use and navigate, it being self-evident to road users where they should be and how they should behave.[citation needed]

More recently the Dutch have introduced the idea that roads should also be "forgiving", i.e. designed to lessen the outcome of a traffic collision when the inevitable does occur, principles which are at the core of both the Dutch and Swedish policies.[9]


In 1997 the Swedish Parliament introduced a "Vision Zero" policy that requires that fatalities and serious injurious are reduced to zero by 2020. This is a significant step change in transport policy at the European level.[citation needed] All new roads are built to this standard and older roads are modified.[citation needed]

United Kingdom[edit]

Transport appraisal in the United Kingdom is based on New Approach to Appraisal which was first published in 1998 and updated in 2007. In 2006 the Stockholm Environment Institute wrote a report at the request of the UK Department for Transport titled 'Vision zero: Adopting a Target of Zero for Road Traffic Fatalities and Serious Injuries'.[10] In 2008 the Road Safety Foundation published a report proposing on UK road safety which referenced Vision Zero.[9] The Campaign for Safe Road Design is a partnership between 13 UK major road safety stakeholders that is calling for the UK Government to invest in a safe road infrastructure which in their view could cut deaths on British roads by 33%.[citation needed] In 2007 Blackpool was the first British City to declare a vision zero target. In 2014 Brighton & Hove adopted vision zero in its 'Safer Roads' strategy, predicated on the safe systems approach, alongside the introduction of an ISO accredited road traffic safety management system to ISO:39001. Edinburgh adopted a Road Safety Action Plan: Working Towards Vision Zero in May 2010 which "commits to providing a safe and modern road network where all users are safe from the risk of being killed or seriously injured".[11] Northern Ireland's DOE has a "Share the road to zero" policy for zero deaths. Bristol adopted a safe systems approach in March 2015. Transport For London (TfL) say they are working towards zero KSI. UK Vision Zero campaigns include Vision Zero London and Vision Zero UK. A Vision Zero UK all day conference is planned for 19 January 2016 at Camden Town Hall with Landor LINKS conferences.

United States[edit]

  • Chicago: In May 2012, the "Chicago Forward Action Agenda Plan" was introduced aiming to reduce transport deaths to zero in 10 years[12]
  • San Francisco: In January 2014, San Francisco District Supervisors Jane Kim, Norman Yee, and John Avalos introduced Vision Zero plan for San Francisco, where there were 25 pedestrian and bicyclist deaths in 2013 alone. San Francisco's Vision Zero plan calls for investing in engineering, enforcement, and education, and focusing on dangerous intersections.[13]
  • New York City: In January 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced adoption of New York City Vision Zero and enumerated a long list of initiatives the city would be following to reduce fatalities on city streets. Among the measures it plans to take includes pushing for changes in the State legislature to allow the city more control in the administration of traffic safety measures such as speed reduction.[14]
  • Boston: In March 2014, Boston personal injury attorney John Sheehan started the Vision Zero Auto Accident Prevention Scholarship to encourage young adults to consider the tangible benefits of safer driving. The firm hopes that the scholarship will open a dialogue with the City of Boston to implement Vision Zero policies. The law school scholarship looks at an applicants driving record in addition to a short essay to determine selection of the winner.[15] Boston launched Vision Zero in December 2015 [16]
  • Los Angeles: In September 2014, Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation released a strategic plan with a Vision Zero goal to eliminate all traffic deaths by 2025.[17][18]
  • Austin: In November 2014, the Austin City Council voted unanimously to form a Vision Zero Task Force to develop an action plan to direct City departments toward policies aligned with safer roadways.[19][20]
  • San Mateo: In February 2015, the San Mateo City Council passed a Sustainable Streets Plan that includes Vision Zero.[21][22]
  • Portland: In February 2015, Portland's Director of Transportation Leah Treat announced a ten-year plan to end traffic fatalities in the city as part of the Portland Bureau of Transportation's 2-year work plan.[23][24]
  • Seattle: Seattle's vision zero plan is to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030[25]
  • San Jose: On May 12, 2015, San Jose's 11-member City Council unanimously adopted Vision Zero San Jose[26]
  • Santa Barbara: In May 2015, the Santa Barbara City Council embraced the goal of zero traffic fatalities within city limits.[27]
  • San Diego: On June 22, 2015, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced his support for Vision Zero at a press conference with Mayor Pro Tem Marti Emerald and Council Member Mark Kersey [28]
  • Washington, D.C.: In December 2015, Washington, D.C.'s Department of Transportation announced an initiative to eliminate traffic fatalities. This initiative was endorsed by Mayor Murlel Bowser. Press coverage has focused on high traffic fines (up ro $1,000) for speeding. [29]
  • Fort Lauderdale: In November 2015, the Fort Lauderdale City Commission passed Vision Zero Fort Lauderdale to commit to reduce all pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities to zero. In passing Vision Zero Fort Lauderdale, the City has become the first City in the state of Florida and the first City in the Southeastern United States to become a Vision Zero City. [30]

Other safety initiatives[edit]


Across Europe EuroRAP, the European Road Assessment Programme is bringing together a partnership of motoring organisations, vehicle manufacturers and road authorities to develop protocols for identifying and communicating road accident risk and to develop tools and best practice guidelines for engineering safer roads.[31] EuroRAP aims to support governments in meeting their Vision Zero targets.[citation needed]

The "Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area" issued in 2011 by the European Commission states in point 2.5 (9): "By 2050, move close to zero fatalities in road transport. In line with this goal, the EU aims at halving road casualties by 2020."[32]

United Nations[edit]

The United Nations has more modest goals. Its "Decade of Action for Road Safety" is founded on a goal to "stabilize and then reduce" road traffic fatalities by 2020. It established the Road Safety Fund "to encourage donor, private sector and public support for the implementation of a Global Plan of Action.[33]



Norway adopted its version of Vision Zero in 1999. In 2008, a staff engineer at the Norwegian Public Roads Administration said "The zero vision has drawn more attention to road safety, but it has not yielded any significant short-term gains so far."[34]


Sweden, which initiated Vision Zero, has had somewhat better results than Norway. With a population of about 9.6 million, Sweden has a long tradition in setting quantitative road traffic safety targets. In the mid-1990s a 10-year target was set at a 50% reduction for 2007. This target was not met; the actual ten-year reduction was 13% to 471 deaths. The target was revised to 50% by 2020 and to 0 deaths by 2050. In 2009 the reduction from 1997 totals was 34.5% to 355 deaths.

Number of fatalities on Swedish roads [35][36]
Accident Year Fatalities
1997 541
1998 531
1999 580
2000 591
2001 583
2002 532
2003 529
2004 480
2005 440
2006 445
2007 471
2008 396
2009 355
2010 266
2011 314

Traffic volume in Sweden increased steadily over the same period.[37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Goodyear, Sarah (November 20, 2014). "The Swedish Approach to Road Safety: 'The Accident Is Not the Major Problem'" (Written account of Goodyear's interview with Matts-Åke Belin, traffic safety strategist with the Swedish Transport Administration and one of its key architects of the original Vision Zero program). CityLab. Washington, D.C.: The Atlantic Monthly Group. Retrieved December 5, 2014. 
  2. ^ See for example, Ezra Hauer, "Computing what the Public wants: Some issues in road safety cost-benefit analysis", Accident Analysis and Prevention, January 2011
  3. ^ "Sweden's Vision Zero" (PDF). World Health Organization. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  4. ^ Johansson, Rodger (2009). "Vision Zero- Implementing a policy for traffic safety". Road Safety Division. 
  5. ^ Claes Tingvall and Narelle Haworth. "Vision Zero - An ethical approach to safety and mobility". Table 1. Possible long term maximum travel speeds related to the infrastructure, given best practice in vehicle design and 100% restraint use... 
  6. ^ "EU wants to slash rural speed limit". Irish Independent newspaper. 2010-10-13. Retrieved 2010-11-10. Europe's top road safety agency warned yesterday that the speed limit on our killer rural roads is too high and should be slashed by a third...The general speed limit of 100kmh on main rural roads which do not have dividing crash barriers should be cut to 70kmh or less, an official report recommended yesterday. 
  7. ^ "NRA New Divided Road Types: Type 2 and Type 3 Dual-carriageways" (PDF). (Ireland) National Road Authority. Retrieved 2010-11-22. Type 2 Dual Carriageway: A divided all-purpose road with two lanes in each direction Type 3 Dual Carriageway: A divided all purpose road with two lanes in one direction of travel and one lane in the other direction. the two-lane section, which provides the overtaking opportunity, alternates with a one-lane section at intervals  line feed character in |quote= at position 85 (help)
  8. ^ (December 2012). "Traffic and Accident Data: Summary Statistics – Germany" (PDF). Bundesanstalt für Straßenwesen (Federal Highway Research Institute). Bundesanstalt für Straßenwesen. Retrieved 2014-04-07.  Check date values in: |year= / |date= mismatch (help)
  9. ^ a b Hill, Joanne. "Getting Ahead: Returning Britain to European leadership in road casualty reduction" (PDF). Road Safety Foundation. Retrieved 2008-10-01. 
  10. ^ "Vision zero: Adopting a Target of Zero for Road Traffic Fatalities and Serious Injuries" (PDF). Department for Transport. 2006. Retrieved 2010-04-15. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Kwong, Jessica (February 19, 2014). "SF takes step forward in education for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers". San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  14. ^ New York vision Zero
  15. ^ Vision Zero Auto Accident Prevention Scholarship
  16. ^
  17. ^ Orlov, Rick (September 29, 2014). "Making Los Angeles streets ‘great,’ ending pedestrian deaths are Mayor Eric Garcetti and LADOT’s goals". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ Austin City Council Resolution
  20. ^ Austin Vision Zero Task Force
  21. ^ Boone, Andrew (February 20, 2015). "San Mateo Adopts Vision Zero and LOS Reform With Sustainable Streets Plan". Streetsblog San Francisco. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  22. ^ [2]
  23. ^ [3]
  24. ^ [4]
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ Welsh, Nick (May 14, 2015). "Hard Stop on Traffic Deaths: City Council Embraces ‘Vision Zero’ Program". Santa Barbara Independent. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  28. ^
  29. ^ Halsey, Ashley (December 10, 2015). [ttps:// "The Washington Post"]. "Violate D.C.'s Traffic Laws? It's going to cost you--a lot,". Retrieved January 31, 2016 – via Google. 
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^ Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area
  33. ^ "UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020". Road Safety fund. FIA foundation / WHO. Retrieved 8 March 2014. 
  34. ^ "Aiming to Reduce Fatal Traffic Accidents: Zero Vision, Zero Results?". Retrieved 2008-11-13. Since the mid-1990s, the number of people killed in road accidents has not decreased significantly. 560 people were killed in traffic accidents in 1970. Fifteen years on, there were fewer than 300. The National Transport Plan 2002-2011 was launched in 1999, and the zero vision with it. Since then, the number of fatalities has remained largely unchanged. 
  35. ^ Anders Lie and Claes Tingvall. "GOVERNMENT STATUS REPORT, SWEDEN" (PDF). Swedish Road Administration. 
  36. ^
  37. ^ "Does the Vision Zero work?". Retrieved 2014-04-15. We can clearly see that road deaths have continued to decrease despite a steady rise in traffic. 

External links[edit]