Vision zero started in Sweden in 1997 with the goal that no one should be killed or seriously injured through a road accident. After managing to reduce the number of deaths in traffic by half, it spread to other Nordic countries. Now, about 45 cities in the US have adopted the strategy.
When the concept of Vision Zero was introduced, it transformed the view of road safety work. Instead of trying to prevent all accidents, the goal is for no one to die or be seriously injured in a road accident.
– Many, or most, thought it was a ridiculous idea. But we are getting closer, Claes Tingvall, initiator of Vision Zero, said in Smart City Sweden’s film.
According to Vision Zero, the main problem is not that accidents occur – it is instead whether the accidents lead to death or lifelong injury. Vision Zero stresses the fact that the road transport system is an entity, in which different components such as roads, vehicles and road users must be made to interact with each other so that safety can be guaranteed. To prevent serious results from accidents, it is essential for the roads, and the vehicles they carry, to be adapted to match the capabilities of the people that use them.
Some examples of measures that increase traffic safety are the use of barriers, wire rails and other technologies, speed-limiting solutions, crumple zones, and the separation of traffic. There is also an increased focus on the safety of unprotected road users. Looking to the future, Sweden is active in developing technology for autonomous vehicles and other solutions that aim to eliminate human error.
Opportunities for collaboration
A key success factor for Vision Zero is its wide-ranging collaboration, involving different stakeholders, from authorities like the Swedish Transport Administration to companies such as car manufacturers, and infrastructure and tech businesses. These organisations share knowledge and contribute to new approaches and innovations that other countries can benefit from and learn from.
In 2019, the Vision Zero Academy was established by the Swedish Transport Administration. Vision Zero Academy is a global knowledge hub with the overall purpose to spread knowledge about Vision Zero and supporting and collaborating with different stakeholders around the world in their strive for safe road transport systems.
The academy provides information about the birth and progress of the view of Vision Zero, and its effects on road safety. The academy website contains articles and examples of how the concepts and approach of Vision Zero have gained a foothold in different countries around the world.
In September each year, the Swedish Transport Administration arranges a week-long Vision Zero International Course in Sweden, to spread information and experience on the Vision Zero approach. The 2023 edition of the course will take place on the 18th-22nd of September in Gothenburg, Sweden.
The course welcomes everyone who works in practice with traffic safety issues in various agencies, such as government authorities, industry, municipalities, NGOs and academia. It is also highly relevant for experts within UN authorities, development banks, and other international organisations.