What is Vision Zero?

The concept of Vision Zero first originated in Sweden in 1997, when the Swedish parliament adopted it as the official road policy. Founded on the belief that loss of life is not an acceptable price to pay for mobility, Vision Zero takes a systems approach to enhancing safety. Rather than exclusively faulting drivers and other users of the transportation system, Vision Zero places the core responsibility for crashes on the overall system design, addressing infrastructure design, vehicle technology, and enforcement.

The approach has resulted in noteworthy successes – Sweden has one of the lowest annual rates of road deaths in the world: 3 out of 100,000 as compared to 11.6 in the United States (2012), a reduction of 39%. Over the past decade, many other European nations have adopted Vision Zero programs and have achieved significant fatality reductions, for example: Switzerland (41%), Germany (45%), France (48%) and Spain (53%).[reference]

Here in the states, Vision Zero has found success as well, with a 43% reduction in traffic fatalities in Minnesota, a 48% reduction in Utah, and a 40% decrease in Washington State, and in 2014, pedestrian fatalities in NYC were the lowest they’ve ever been since records began about a century ago.

Vision Zero is based on four principles:[reference]

  • Ethics: Human life and health are paramount and take priority over mobility and other objectives of the road traffic system
  • Responsibility: providers and regulators of the road traffic system share responsibility with users;
  • Safety: road traffic systems should take account of human fallibility and minimize both the opportunities for errors and the harm done when they occur; and
  • Mechanisms for change: providers and regulators must do their utmost to guarantee the safety of all citizens; they must cooperate with road users; and all three must be ready to change to achieve safety.


What are some other American cities that have implemented Vision Zero?

     The Vision Zero Network in America, a comprehensive website.

New York

Los Angeles