What is Vision Zero?

Vision Zero is an approach to road safety that is underpinned by the principle that it is not ethically acceptable for people to be killed or seriously injured whilst using roads. However, it also accepts that humans are not perfect and that therefore, for a variety of reasons, crashes will still occur. As well as trying to reduce the frequency of incidents, the Vision Zero approach therefore aims to reduce the severity of crashes to beneath the threshold at which serious injury may occur. The Safe System approach to road safety is a framework that helps progress towards our Vision Zero aim.

What is the Safe System approach?

Rather than solely blame road users for crashes, the Safe System considers a wider range of factors that may have contributed to incident causation. These factors are typically referred to as the five ‘pillars’ of the Safe System:

  • Safe road use
    • A focus on the behaviour of road users including training, certification, driving / riding and compliance.
  • Safe vehicles
    • A focus on the primary (collision avoidance), secondary (collision mitigation) and tertiary (post-crash harm reduction) features of vehicles achieved through regulation, certification, best practice etc.
  • Safe speeds
    • A focus on helping road users to adopt speeds that are appropriate for the roads, conditions and vehicles on the network.
  • Safe roads and roadsides
    • A focus on the infrastructure that supports road journeys, including surfaces, barriers, signs and road markings.
  • Post-crash response
    • A focus on measures that can be applied after an incident has occurred to mitigate the harm that might be suffered by anyone involved in the crash.

These pillars are supported by a need for a system of road safety management – the ability to monitor and analyse safety relevant data from the road network and to set suitable targets and define appropriate strategies to improve safety.

What is the value of Vision Zero and the Safe System

Perhaps the most important aspect of these concepts are how they can change the mindsets of those responsible for road safety. We no longer accept that there are road ‘accidents’ – unfortunate combinations of circumstances that unavoidably lead to collisions. We instead explore how elements from across the Safe System might have contributed to the incident occurring and determine what measures could adopted to prevent or mitigate the crash.
As our transport system evolves towards greater sustainability with new modes, new powertrains and new technologies, it is vital that we continue to strive for Vision Zero, guided by the Safe System. The diverse abilities of the ITEN team, with expertise in all pillars of the Safe System, can deliver the critical insights that enable organisations to progress towards this goal.