Throughout the world, the “Vision Zero” mindset, which accepts no traffic fatality as inevitable, is saving lives. In Sweden, the most famous example and originator of Vision Zero, traffic fatalities have dropped 30% since 1997. In Minnesota, Utah and Washington State, traffic fatalities have fallen steadily since the introduction of Vision Zero-style programs in the early 2000’s; a 43% reduction in Minnesota, 48% reduction in Utah and a 40% decrease in Washington. While traffic fatalities nationwide are falling, largely due to improvements in emergency/trauma care and vehicle enhancements such as airbags, fatality rates in Vision Zero states fell over 25% faster than the nation since 1997.
The success of Vision Zero policies comes from their multi-faceted approach—bringing together government, advocacy and private sector actors, as well as fully engaging the public to become part of the solution. Vision Zero programs combine strong enforcement and better roadway engineering with improved emergency response and high visibility behavior campaigns to discourage dangerous behavior on roads and streets. In addition, Vision Zero-style policies raise the profile of traffic safety problems and help transform cultural attitudes toward traffic death and injury. Rather than accepting traffic fatalities as accidents, Vision Zero allows us—government agencies, industry groups, key transportation stakeholders and the public alike—to understand traffic crashes as the result of a series of actions that can be changed or prevented through enforcement, education and design.
Ultimately, Vision Zero is only as powerful as the strategies and effort that governments and citizens apply to it. We are confident that New York's Vision Zero Strategy and Action Plan point the way to becoming the safest big city in the world.