Advancing traffic safety to achieve zero fatalities
Take a moment to imagine living in a city with fewer traffic fatalities, where children walk safely across streets, and hardworking mothers and fathers make their daily commute without incident. Unfortunately, that’s not our reality. The reality is an average of 30,000 people are killed in traffic accidents each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However there is an organized effort to reduce these 30,000 deaths to zero, and that effort is called Vision Zero — a collaborative strategy aimed at eliminating traffic fatalities and severe injuries. First implemented in Sweden in the 1990s, Vision Zero has proved successful in reducing traffic fatalities across Europe and is now being adopted by cities all across America.
Vision Zero works with local leaders to share successful strategies, product implementations and to support leadership for policies and practices to eliminate traffic fatalities while increasing safe mobility for vehicles and pedestrians alike. With the help of Vision Zero, communities are redefining how they approach traffic safety to achieve zero deaths from traffic collisions.
Rethinking how we approach traffic safety
Since you can’t perfect human behavior, Vision Zero redefines the traffic safety dilemma by identifying true problem areas as a combination of roadway design, enforcement, technologies, behaviors, polices and speed management. By reversing the traditional approach to traffic safety which focuses on trying to perfect human actions, Vision Zero focuses on the system as a whole, not simply the driver’s role in it.
It’s well known reducing vehicle speed increases roadway safety. Vision Zero works with forward-thinking communities to focus on speed management in an effort to reduce speeds — and ultimately save lives. In order to reduce speeds to safer levels in problem areas, Vision Zero cities have installed Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons and Radar Feedback Signs, and sometimes have completely redesigned roads with Road Diets — all in an effort to increase safety.
Vision Zero at work
Los Angeles officials committed themselves to Vision Zero in August 2015 and have since implemented projects throughout the city including installing twenty-two new Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs) throughout the city. LPIs have been proven to reduce pedestrian vehicle collisions by as much as 60 percent and are ideal for intersections when turning traffic often comes in conflict with crossing pedestrians.
In March of 2015 Boston, MA joined the Vision Zero movement and immediately turned their focus on the Green Links Program, which connects every neighborhood to the city’s extensive park and green way system. The system is helping to produce low-stress, traffic calmed streets and local trails.
Joining the Vision Zero movement
From Los Angeles to New York, major communities are committing to Vision Zero so they too can achieve zero deaths from traffic accidents. By meeting these 4 minimum criteria your city can join the Vision Zero community:
- Mayoral Commitment – A public announcement committing your city to Vision Zero and its goals needs to be made by your city’s may or from the highest-ranking official and include the passage of policy supporting the commitment.
- Establish a Long-Term Goal – City leaders need to establish a long-term goal with measurable benchmarks that provide safety updates for community transparency.
- Develop a Strategy – Within the first year of the commitment a Vision Zero strategy needs to be formed that details information on action plans, key dates and performance metrics.
- Form Multi-Disciplinary Leadership – Members from the Mayor’s Office, Police, Transportation and Public Health Departments need to form a leadership committee to define who will take the lead in Vision Zero planning efforts.
TAPCO, a U.S. Communities supplier partner, has assisted many Vision Zero cities with guidance and innovative technologies that increase traffic safety in their neighborhoods. Through the U.S. Communities competitively-solicited traffic control products contract, you can benefit from discounted products and solutions from TAPCO to help with your traffic safety needs.
Brian Scharles serves as lead intelligent warning system engineer at TAPCO.