Vision Zero: Every Life Matters

It happens to all of us, we trip over things that aren't really there, spill glasses of milk, and walk into inanimate objects. Let's face it, we're human and we make mistakes. Unfortunately, when those same tendencies for human error happen on our roadways the cost is greater than a few ounces of milk. In fact, traffic related accidents claim the lives of 1.24 million people around the world each year.

With today's technological capabilities we no longer have to pay this high price for mobility and are taking a stand by embracing the Vision Zero initiative. Here is a look at what Vision Zero is and how it is inspiring US cities.
Vision Zero: What it Is
Safer streets for everyone.

Adopted in 1997, the Swedish initiative, Vision Zero, focuses on 
safer streets for all users. The underlying theme of the initiative is that no loss of life is acceptable. While acknowledging the role human behavior has on our roadways, Vision Zero focuses on traffic system design, management and leadership.

Knowing that humans are always going to make mistakes, even the most vigil drivers, Vision Zero makes safer street design a top priority. We know the glass of milk is going to be tipped-over, so let's put a lid on top and not make a big mess. Vision Zero focuses on the details that will keep things from getting messy.  

Since its inception, fatalities in Sweden have dropped more than 30%. Thus proving, if our transportation system is designed in a way to minimize mistakes, not only will the road system keep us moving, it will protect us along the way.

Vision Zero Coast to Coast
US cities that are taking note.

The Vision Zero trend is spreading fast. With 35,400 motor-vehicle deaths in 2014 alone, cities throughout the United States are seeing the need and launching similar safety plans:

New York City, NY
  • Each year approximately 4,000 New Yorkers are seriously injured and more than 250 are killed in traffic crashes. 
  • One year after launching Vision Zero, deaths among walkers decreased 26%, the lowest on record since 1910. 
  • Goal: Eliminate all deaths and serious injuries by 2024.
Learn more about New York City's plan.

Los Angeles, CA
  • Los Angeles has one of the highest rates of traffic deaths among large US cities, with more than 200 traffic related deaths each year.
  • The city's efforts will build off of the Complete Streets Design Guide of Mobility Plan 2035 in order to improve visibility for those most vulnerable on the street.
  • Goal: Reduce traffic related deaths by 20% by 2017 and eliminate traffic fatalities by 2025.
Learn more about Los Angeles' plan.
Best of all, other cities are taking note and adopting Vision Zero plans - cities like Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Portland, San Diego, San Mateo, and, Santa Barbara. 

Your Role: Where We Go From Here
Insight for transportation professionals and system users.

As Traffic Professionals: 
We have more power in creating change than the average roadway system user. When designing streets consider space for buses, cyclist, drivers, and pedestrians. Create shorter crossing distances, use better crosswalk markings and enhance lighting. A good way to start is the implementation of advanced warning beacons or rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFB). Remember, our first priority is safety, then mobility. 

As Traffic System Users:
Every time we get in our car, ride our bike, or use a crosswalk we have an opportunity to effect change. Check out these tips for making safer trips
Do your part!

Don't drive distracted by phone calls or texting.

Never drive impaired.

Be more responsible as a cyclist and pedestrian.
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