First adopted as a national policy in Sweden in 1997, Vision Zero is a strategy to eliminate all traffic-related deaths and severe injuries, while increasing safety, health, and mobility for all. In Sweden, traffic-related deaths have since dropped by 30%. In the United States, cities of all sizes have adopted Vision Zero policies.
Vision Zero focuses on how people naturally behave. People make mistakes—kids run out in to the street—but these mistakes should not be fatal. We may never prevent all crashes, but we can put people first and prevent the most serious and fatal crashes. The airline industry and the railroads have zero-tolerance policies—zero tolerance for traffic deaths is next.
Vision Zero prioritizes human life and seeks to eliminate the prevailing sentiment that traffic crashes are inevitable accidents.
Successful Vision Zero programs recognize that there is safety in numbers, that increasing numbers of people walking and biking make these activities safer, as well as improve the health of a city.
Vision Zero focuses attention on the shortcomings of the transportation system itself, rather than changing individual behavior. Through road design, education, and traffic safety enforcement, we can eliminate traffic-related deaths.
Speed is a fundamental predictor of crash survival. Without the protection of an automobile, the human body has a limited tolerance for speeds higher than 20 miles per hour. Speed is especially lethal for people walking and biking. To preserve human life, our transportation system should be designed for reasonable speeds.
In Philadelphia, approximately 53% of the city’s traffic-related deaths are a result of aggressive driving, which includes speeding and failure to yield.
Every year in Philadelphia, our residents are subject to approximately 10,000 traffic crashes. These crashes take the lives of around 100 people each year in Philadelphia, and severely injurying 250 more.
Data source: NHTSA (2015)
This Three-Year Action Plan outlines Vision Zero’s near-term goals. It is rooted Mayor Kenney’s commitment to improving the traffic safety and saving lives, and is a result of a collaboration of various governmental agencies, as well as community and advocacy groups.
Reducing traffic-related deaths to zero on Philadelphia streets by 2030 will require data-informed prioritization of investments. The High Injury Network provides that focus.
Using a five-year trend of crash data (PennDOT, 2012 - 2016), the High Injury Network is comprised of the corridors across the city on which fatal crashes and crashes that result in severe injury occur. These crashes may have involved people in vehicles or people walking and biking.
In order to prioritize the safety of people who are most vulnerable on our roadways, a weight was placed on crashes resulting in the death or a severe injury of someone walking or biking.
Fifty percent of all traffic deaths and severe injuries occurred on just 12% of Philadelphia streets. This 12% of streets comprised the High Injury Network. By prioritizing investments along these corridors, we can save lives and prevent severe injuries.
This High Injury Network will serve as the focus of the Vision Zero strategies outlined in this Three-Year Action Plan.
“We applaud the City’s efforts to advance Vision Zero. As our city grows in population and density, we need to ensure that our roads safely accommodate all modes of transportation. Doing so will not just save lives, but make Philly a more desirable place to live and work.”
A shared responsibility that will require leadership and commitment by elected officials, City agencies, community stakeholders, and the public and private sectors alike.
As we move Vision Zero forward, we must remember no one should have to grieve the loss of a loved one as a result of a traffic crash.
Data source: PennDOT (2007-2016); excludes interstates
Crashes resulting in fatalities or severe injuries on Philadelphia streets by 2030
Traffic deaths and severe injuries on Philadelphia streets
PennDOT (2016); excludes interstates
PennDOT (2012-2016); excludes interstates
PennDOT (2012-2016); excludes interstates