is a project to achieve a road transport system
which allows for human error but without it leading to serious injury. The guiding principle behind Vision Zero is that road safety can only be achieved by a partnership between the designers of the system (road engineers and vehicle manufacturers) and the users of the system. This prinicple is based on three rules:
- the designers of the system have ultimate responsibility for the safety of the entire system.
- the users of the system have a responsiblity to follow the rules laid down by the designers of the system (e.g. adhering to speed limits, wearing seat belts).
- when users fail to adhere to the rules, through ignorance, intent or lack of skill, the designers must take all necessary steps to prevent serious injury or death.
Ethics of Vision Zero
There is a strong ethical element to the Vision Zero concept. "Life and health can never be exchanged for other benefits within the society.". The inverse of this can currently been seen in road design in the United Kingdom where road designers frequently trade off road safety and capacity.
In 1997 the Swedish Parliament introduced a “Vision Zero” policy that requires that fatalities and serious injurious are reduced to zero by 2020. This is a significant step change in transport policy at the European level and may soon be followed by Switzerland. All new roads are built to this standard and older roads are modified.
In the UK
a Vision Zero project has been started by the Department for Transport. This is intended to inform UK policy makers of the risks, costs, benefits and opportunities associated with this step change in transport policy. The study will investigate the consequences of implementing this step change and examine which steps are needed to achieve a UK Vision Zero within 30 years.
In Holland their sustainable safety approach differs from Vision Zero in that it acknowledges that in the majority of accidents humans are to blame, and that roads should be designed to be Self-Explaining thus reducing the liklihood of accidents. Self explaining roads are easy to use and navigate, it being self evident to road users where they should be and how they should behave.
More recently the Dutch have introduced the idea that roads should also be "forgiving", i.e. designed to lessen the outcome of an accident when the inevitable does occur. This concept of self-explaining and forgiving roads is at the core of both the Dutch and Swedish policies.
Across Europe EuroRAP
, the European Road Assessment Programme is bringing together a partnership of motoring organisations, vehicle manufacturers and road authorities to develop protocols for identifying and communicating road accident risk and to develop tools and best practice guidelines for engineering safer roads. EuroRAP aims to support governments in meeting their tough Vision Zero targets.