The nationally-recognized Vision Zero Network defines Vision Zero as, “a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all.”
The holistic set of principles known collectively as Vision Zero were first implemented in Sweden in the 1990s. They sought to evolve beyond disjointed, reactive responses to traffic deaths to implement a goals-based, multi-disciplinary approach which shifts the focus from individual incidents to system-wide improvement.
While the Vision Zero approach is implemented uniquely in each community, all programs share a set of five core tenets:
- Build and sustain leadership and collaboration
- Collect, analyze, and use data to understand trends
- Emphasize equity and engagement
- Establish urgency and accountability
- Prioritize safe roadways and speeds in all transportation planning and design
Vision Zero is a strategic, fundamental shift in assumptions about safe transportation, with a focus on:
- Recognizing that traffic deaths and injuries are preventable
- Factoring in human behavior and error to proposed solutions
- Acknowledging that safety doesn’t have to be expensive
Vision Zero is not accomplished through transportation solutions alone. Many factors contribute to safety, and there are many who stand to benefit from increasing travel safety. Accordingly, the Arlington County Vision Zero effort will be community-wide, collaborative, and multi-disciplinary.
Our streets are the threads that knit our community together. Everyone in Arlington depends on a safe transportation network as they move through the County. Therefore, no death or severe injury on Arlington County streets or trails is acceptable.
On July 16, 2019, the Arlington County Board affirmed these values by adopting a resolution committing to Vision Zero. Through this comprehensive and holistic approach, the County aims to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries. The resolution directed County staff to:
- Develop Vision Zero Goals and a Vision Zero Action Plan, based on a comprehensive analysis of traffic collisions in Arlington.
- Ensure that the Vision Zero Goals and Action Plan address any demonstrated inequity in traffic deaths and serious injuries through a combination of engineering, enforcement, education, encouragement, and evaluation.
- Engage the community in the development and implementation of the Vision Zero Action Plan.
- Provide an annual report on implementation of the Vision Zero Action Plan and quarterly summaries of traffic fatalities, severe injuries, and other collisions to actively track the County’s performance.
Why Vision Zero in Arlington?
Safer streets mean fewer injuries—but also more healthful, active travel. Ultimately, a safe transportation network also benefits our daily quality of life.
Arlington’s transportation network is relatively safe by national standards, with an annual average of 0.84 traffic deaths per 100,000 people, compared to the national average of 11.17 traffic deaths per 100,000 people. But no death or severe injury on our streets or trails is acceptable, no matter how we compare to other communities.
We still have work to do.
Vision Zero unequivocally aligns with, and helps to realize, the County Vision:
“Arlington will be a diverse and inclusive world-class urban community with secure, attractive residential and commercial neighborhoods where people unite to form a caring, learning, participating, sustainable community in which each person is important.”
The principles of Vision Zero are supported by existing County policies and goals, from the Master Transportation Plan to the Arlington County Police Department Strategic Management Plan. In addition, the County has many that are aimed at making the streets safe for all. Vision Zero is a logical next step to continue pushing forward toward a safer transportation system for all Arlingtonians.
For more background information on Vision Zero in Arlington County, you may review a Vision Zero Briefing presentation given to the County Board in July 2019 by Transportation Engineering and Operations Bureau Chief Hui Wang.
Vision Zero in Other Communities
Over 30 cities in the US have made a commitment to Vision Zero. Places like New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Washington, DC; Chicago, IL; Seattle, WA; and Los Angeles, CA, have demonstrated how the resources of a large city can work toward Vision Zero. Jurisdictions of smaller sizes (including Alexandria, VA; Bellevue, WA; and Eugene, OR) have demonstrated that Vision Zero can be successfully scaled to any size and tailored to local needs.
Vision Zero communities often share resources and lessons learned. The biggest information hub for Vision Zero efforts in the United States is the Vision Zero Network, which provides case studies, webinars, and other tools to improve Vision Zero efforts.
Learn More About Vision Zero