Throughout the United States, some cities have started getting serious about trying to bring down the death rate for people who die in car accidents, pedestrian accidents or bicycle collisions. Many of these cities, including Washington D.C., Chicago, Portland, New York and San Francisco have adopted a plan called "Vision Zero."
Vision Zero is based on a theory that there should be no motor vehicle accident fatalities.
While a personal injury lawyer knows it is unrealistic to expect that zero people will die in car crashes, the fact is that Vision Zero has proven to be successful in the past. It was adopted by the Swedish Parliament in 1997 and has been in place in Sweden ever since. The Economist reports that it has helped to make Sweden one of the safest places in the entire world.
If this plan is successful here in the U.S., the Vision Zero policies and principles may spread to other locations, including Del Mar, Hillside, Nye, Laredo and elsewhere across Texas.
How Vision Zero Reduces Crash Deaths
Vision Zero has reduced the death rate in Swedish car accidents dramatically. The number of traffic fatalities has declined by four-fifths in Sweden since the 1970s. Last year there were just 264 motor vehicle accident deaths in Sweden.
In Sweden, the death rate is three people per 100,000. Throughout the European Union, the death rate is 5.5 deaths per 100,000 people.
By contrast, in the United States, the death rate is around double at 11.4 deaths per 100,000 people.
Sweden's decline in traffic fatalities has occurred at the same time as the number of registered cars and the number of miles driven have both doubled. There are still lots of people driving; they are just doing it more safely.
The success of Vision Zero in Sweden is based on the fact that the primary focus of road design is safety, not speed or convenience. Urban speed limits are kept very low in order to protect pedestrians and there is a lot of police enforcement of traffic safety rules. This has resulted in the rate of people who have a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit falling to less than .25 percent of drivers tested.
Swedish roads are designed to provide extensive protections for bicycle riders and walkers. Bike and pedestrian lanes are separated by barriers from traffic. There are also more than 12,600 safe pedestrian crossings. These zebra crossings incorporate speed bumps and flashing lights.
Many of the roads in Sweden, more than 900 miles total, are considered 2+1 road. This means that there is a separate third lane that motorists from other traffic lanes must take turns passing in.
All of the efforts to design safe roads and to enforce driving safety rules have been instrumental in helping to ensure that people in Sweden stay safe when driving, walking or biking.
Cities that are adopting Vision Zero may not be able to incorporate every single thing that Sweden has done, as there are already established road systems and there are political realities to face. Still, if the techniques that are adopted work, other locations throughout the United States including Laredo, TX may begin to incorporate them into their own Vision Zero plans.
If you were injured or a loved one was injured or killed in an accident, contact us today. The Law Office of John R. Solis has experience protecting the rights of accident victims in Del Mar, Hillside, Nye, Laredo and across Texas. Call 866-465-9093 for a free case consultation.