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Vision Zero and the Safe System Approach
Last Updated on October 12, 2021
The goal of Vision Zero is to completely eliminate deaths and serious injuries from road transportation. Achieving this goal will require a Safe System Approach that considers the mental and physical capacities of humans and creates road transportation systems designed to effectively reduce the risk of injury and death caused by crashes.
Vision Zero Principles:
- Life and health can never be exchanged for other benefits in society,
- Serious injuries and fatalities are predictable and preventable,
- Road users are vulnerable but should not be killed or seriously injured as a result of a crash,
- Humans are prone to error but should not die or become seriously injured as a result,
- System-wide changes are the most effective.
Safe System Approach:
The Safe System Approach recognizes the interdependence of the safe system components: Safe Roads, Safe Speeds, Safe Road Users and Safe Vehicles, and the actions that can be taken to achieve continuous improvements across these components. The goal of this approach is to prevent all collisions and to assure that if collisions do occur, road users will not be seriously injured. While road users must always try to interact safely, the Safe System Approach emphasizes that the transportation system must be designed to accommodate human vulnerability and error. Therefore, the Safe System approach places more responsibility on the system designers than on individual road users. The Safe System Approach is illustrated in the figure below (https://roadsafetystrategy.ca/en/strategy).
Components of Safe System Approach
Additional information on Vision Zero:
Additional information on the Safe System Approach in Canada can be found in the ITE Journal article Canada and the Safe Systems Approach to Road Safety.
Decade of Action for Road Safety:
The United Nations (UN) General Assembly passed a resolution in March 2010 to establish the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020. During this decade, the goal of the World Health Organization was to “stabilize and then reduce the forecasted level of road traffic fatalities around the world by increasing activities conducted at national, regional and global levels” by 2020 (18201_RoadSafety English Summary For Web.pdf (who.int)).
The principles guiding the Decade of Action are to:
- Adopt a “Safe System Approach” to deal with traffic collisions,
- Ensure ownership for activities at the national and local level,
- Include governments, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations in the development of improvements to road safety.
The Decade of Action has been successful in reducing fatalities and serious injuries mainly in high-income countries. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/277370/WHO-NMH-NVI-18.20-eng.pdf
With road safety now included in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, (SDG) much more must be done to stop the carnage on the world’s roads that kills 1.35 million people every year. The United Kingdom-based Towards Zero Foundation’s 50BY30 campaign launched in early 2020, aims at reducing road deaths and serious injuries by 50 per cent by 2030. http://www.towardszerofoundation.org/50by30/. This goal was adopted by the United Nations at a meeting in Sweden in 2020. https://www.roadsafetysweden.com/about-the-conference/stockholm-declaration/
A new target and a new decade of action are intended to save 675,000 lives a year, accelerate progress in global road injury prevention, and work towards a world eventually free from road fatalities and serious injuries. More information can be found at: