Setting the Foundation: Developing a Vision Zero Action Plan

By: Miovision Team | Apr 18, 2024
the message “drive safe” written on a road

Image source: Canva

In a perfect world, all travelers—whether they choose to move via car, bicycle, public transit, or by walking—would be able to do so safely. Unfortunately, the world we live in isn’t perfect and traffic safety continues to be a nation-wide issue. 

An estimated 40,990 Americans died in motor vehicle traffic accidents in 2023. Even though it is a slight decrease from 2022, is still much too high and has communities seeking solutions. 

A Vision Zero action plan is such a solution. In this blog, we’ll break down how shifting your perspective on traffic collisions is the first step toward change! 

 

What Is Vision Zero?

Vision Zero is simple in its goal: to bring the number of traffic-related deaths and severe injuries down to zero. This philosophy, which originated in 1990s Sweden, is now being applied to American road networks to drive positive change. 

 

Changing How We Think About Traffic Deaths

A Vision Zero plan is rooted in a philosophical shift in how we think about traffic accidents and the human lives involved. Rather than accepting traffic deaths as an inevitability, it encourages us to believe accidents are predictable and preventable—which they are! And because they are predictable and preventable, many in the Vision Zero community are choosing the term ‘crash’ over ‘accident’.

Here’s a comparison of these two philosophies: 

The Traditional Approach Vision Zero
Traffic Deaths Inevitable Avoidable
Human Behavior Must be perfect Will never be perfect
Collisions Must be prevented altogether Focus on preventing fatal and severe crashes
Who Is Responsible Individuals  Systems
The Cost of Saving Lives Expensive Inexpensive (and worth it)

 

What Is a Vision Zero Action Plan?

By adopting this philosophy, a Vision Zero road safety plan is a set of actionable measures to save lives on the road. It’s a roadmap for communities to follow when implementing changes and policies that will bring them closer to this ultimate goal. 

A Vision Zero plan takes a multidisciplinary approach that encompasses engineering, education, enforcement, and evaluation. When leveraged together, these pillars can help municipalities redesign infrastructure, enhance public awareness, and better enforce traffic regulations so that human error doesn’t result in fatal consequences. 

a bird’s eye view of cars moving on a highway surrounded by trees

Image source: Canva

 

The 4 Steps to Developing a Vision Zero Road Safety Plan

Developing a Vision Zero plan takes work and involves several parties, but will ultimately be worth it given the life-changing results. With that in mind, here are the four main steps to follow when looking to develop one in your community. 

 

1. Get Your Community Involved

A Vision Zero action plan is meant to serve the community, which means the people should always be involved in its creation. 

Start by engaging with stakeholders and community leaders—think city staff and policymakers—to hear their perspectives on public road safety issues. Get them invested and ready to advocate on behalf of your new policies. However, be sure to also prioritize input from typically underrepresented communities to ensure your new plan serves everyone. 

Ultimately, the long-term goal should be to build a sustainable foundation for trust, communication, and cooperation. 

 

2. Collect Data to Identify Opportunities

Next, based on what you’ve learned, you need to assess the current landscape to identify opportunities to improve it with your Vision Zero action plan. The most obvious way to do this would be through traffic studies. 

It’s important to use technology that’s safe, reliable, and effective. Your traffic studies should be supported by reliable devices that provide you with the information you need to make roads safer, not hold you back as you try to make progress. 

Beyond those studies, you’ll also need to consider: 

  • Historical crash data
  • Systemic factors
  • Community roles and relationships
  • The desired outcomes
  • Rules and rewards
  • Available resources

Ultimately, the are many different data sources and you may not be able to consult all of them.. What’s important is that you are thorough, detailed, and proactive in your safety data collection as the numbers you pull will ultimately inform your decisions. 

 

3. Implement Multifaceted Solutions

Now, armed with perspective and data to support it, you need to start implementing changes that make roads safer for everyone in your community. 

In your community, for example, you might work with community leaders to identify some problem intersections. Assuming you confirmed this with data, you should now look to implement solutions in these intersections specifically. 

The solutions you implement can and should be multifaceted. If crashes at this intersection often happen when first responders speed through, you could look to install Emergency Vehicle Preemption (EVP). However, to support this, you could also look to run a free community workshop on tips for sharing the road with emergency vehicles. 

Remember: Vision Zero is a collective effort. A good Vision Zero road safety plan explores all avenues to solve problems and make things safer. 

 

4. Consistently Evaluate Your Progress

What’s also important to remember is that a Vision Zero action plan is a living, breathing thing—it’s not just a change to implement, and then be done with. 

As such, your evaluations should be ongoing. It’s important to celebrate progress as it will motivate your team and the community, but it’s also important to keep pushing forward and continuing to find new solutions. Be proactive. 

As you evaluate your Vision Zero plan, have your team ask itself: 

  • Which stakeholders still need to be included? 
  • How well-represented is the entirety of the community? 
  • Is our current funding suitable and sustainable? 
  • What does the future of our funding look like? 
  • Is our plan producing the desired results? 
  • Has our plan produced any undesirable results? 

These are just a few of the many things you need to be thinking about when it comes to keeping a Vision Zero plan moving in the right direction. While it can feel overwhelming, remember to keep the focus on what matters: safer roads! 

a team of traffic professionals meeting in a boardroom

Image source: Canva

 

Build a Vision Zero Action Plan With Miovision

Developing a Vision Zero road safety plan is a massive undertaking, but one that has the power to completely transform a community. Vision Zero is achievable—is your community ready to put in the work needed to get there? 

Miovision provides data-driven solutions that can help. Our platform and family of products provide you with better ways to collect traffic data and implement changes, helping you across multiple stages of the process. We’re committed to doing our part in limiting traffic fatalities and serious injuries to improve safety for all road users. 

Contact our team today to learn where we fit in your Vision Zero network!