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 the more often people can shift from driving to taking transit, walking, or biking, is safer for everyone and can improve the health of a city.
Vision Zero in Philadelphia focuses attention on making the transportation system itself safer, rather than changing individual behavior. It embraces a framework of safe speeds, safe streets, safe people, safe vehicles, and safety data, to acknowledge that people are not perfect, and make mistakes, but when they do, systems should be in place to prevent traffic-related deaths.
Speed is the number one contributing factor in determining if a crash is fatal. 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.
In Philadelphia, approximately 36% of the city’s traffic-related deaths are a result of aggressive driving, which includes speeding and failure to yield.
The Vision Zero Action Plan 2025 builds on Philadelphia’s progress over the last three years. The Plan advances the next phase of work using a safe systems framework. This approach to transportation safety looks beyond the immediate conditions of a crash and focuses across connected systems to prevent all fatal crashes.
In comparison to a more traditional approach that designs roadway environments to function best when users follow precise rules, a safe system approach preemptively accounts for human error. People are not perfect and make mistakes, and when they do, our safety systems should be in place to prevent traffic-related deaths.
In addition, a safe system preemptively promotes the safest and healthiest options for people to get around such as taking transit, walking, or biking.
The Vision Zero Action Plan 2025 embraces a framework of safe speeds, safe streets, safe
people, safe vehicles, and safety data, to acknowledge that people are not perfect, and make
mistakes, but when they do our safety systems should be in place to prevent traffic-related deaths.
Every year in Philadelphia, our residents are subject to approximately 10,000 traffic crashes. These crashes take the lives of around 85 people each year in Philadelphia, and severely injurying 250 more.
Data source: NHTSA (2018)
This Five-Year Action Plan refines the City’s approach to Vision Zero. It is renewing Mayor Kenney’s commitment to reducing fatalities on a system wide level, and is a result of a collaboration of various governmental agencies, as well as community and advocacy groups.
In developing this plan, the Task Force took time to step back and reexamine the areas of progress and the challenges from the first action plan to develop a safe systems approach.
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, 2014 - 2018; excludes interstates), 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.
Eighty percent of all traffic deaths and serious injuries occurred on just twelve percent of Philadelphia streets. This twelve percent of streets comprises 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 the Five-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 (2007-2020); excludes interstates
Crashes resulting in fatalities or severe injuries on Philadelphia streets by 2030
Traffic deaths and serious injuries on Philadelphia streets
PennDOT (2020); excludes interstates
PennDOT (2019); excludes interstates
PennDOT (2019); excludes interstates