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What Is Vision Zero, and how it started?

What Is Vision Zero, and how it started?

Vision Zero is a comprehensive road safety strategy that was born approximately 20 years ago in Sweden, based on a very clear premise “No more deaths or serious injuries due to road accidents.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that every year in the world 1.2 million people die due to road accidents, and 50 million are injured. By 2030, it is expected that deaths from road accidents in low- to middle-income countries will be the fourth leading cause of death among the population.

What Is Vision Zero?

Vision Zero is a strategy that tries to prevent all deaths and serious injuries from traffic accidents while increasing safe, healthy and sustainable mobility for all.

For a long time, we have believed that deaths from traffic accidents and serious injuries are inevitable. Although they are often called “accidents”, the reality is that we can avoid these tragedies by adopting a proactive and preventive approach that prioritizes road safety as a matter of public health: that is why instead of “accidents” we should speak of “roads accidents” to the extent that most of them are avoidable by adopting appropriate preventive measures.

How It Started

First implemented as a national road policy in Sweden in 1997, Vision Zero has now been adopted by more than 20 cities around the world.

Behind the Vision Zero strategy is the Safe System, a holistic safety approach that transfers responsibility from the people who use the roads to the people who design them, integrating core areas of management and action to create a safe mobility system that forgives human error.

The structure of an effective Vision Zero strategy incorporates the Safe System approach. As the Vision Zero policy concept gains ground, cities need to ensure that the key principles and action areas of the Safe System are applied to each new context and considered holistically in both policy documents and implementation practice as cities develop their road safety strategies.

Vision Zero is based on 2 fundamental principles:

  • Vision Zero recognizes that people sometimes make mistakes, so the road system and related policies must be designed to ensure that those unavoidable mistakes do not result in serious injury or death.
  • To better explain the concept we will use an example that seems enlightening. If a person has a traffic accident, zero vision analyzes the incident from all points of view: vehicle, passengers, driver, weather conditions, road, signage, and does not blame the driver for what happened, but the driver is a variable more into the reason for the accident. The goal is not to find guilty, but to find solutions.

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