International Transport Forum’s ‘Vision Zero’ report wins International Road Safety award

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A new report from the International Transport Forum (ITF) at the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), setting out a radically new approach in road safety, has won the 2016 Special Award of the prestigious Prince Michael of Kent International Road Safety Awards.

The award-winning study by a group of 30 international road safety experts from 24 countries, convened by the ITF, reviews the experiences of countries that have made it their long-term objective to completely eliminate fatal road crashes.

Originating in Sweden, the ‘Vision Zero’ concept has proved to be not merely a utopian ideal, but a demonstrably realistic ambition. To support this view, the ITF cites:

• 88 European cities with a population above 100,000 have not had any road fatalities over the course of a whole year. The biggest among them are Nottingham in the UK (pop. 289,000), Aachen in Germany (pop. 260,000), and Espoo in Finland (pop 259,000);

• 16 European towns above 50,000 inhabitants experienced no road deaths for five years running, with nine in the UK, six in Germany, and one in Norway;

• Not a single child died as result of a bicycle crash in Sweden in 2008.

The award-winning ITF report, Zero Road Deaths and Serious Injuries: Leading a Paradigm Shift to a Safe System (right), offers guidance for leaders that want to drastically reduce the road deaths in their communities, and sets out how a ‘safe system’ approach to road safety can underpin this goal. The report’s core recommendations to policy makers and the road safety community are:

• Be ambitious – think safe roads, not just safer roads, as the conventional approach seeks incremental improvements to current practice, whereas a safe system works backward from the vision of zero road deaths and creates new perspectives on how to do it;

• Be resolute – foster a sense of urgency and lead the way, as in communities that have adopted a safe system, innovation occurred where political leaders strongly felt that the current approach no longer delivered;

• Be inclusive – establish shared responsibility for road safety, as avoiding crashes is the responsibility of the road user, with a safe system requiring everyone with a role in the traffic environment to recognize this role and assume responsibility for making traffic safe;

• Be concrete – underpin aspirational goals with concrete operational targets, as establishing milestones that are attainable for clearly defined groups or issues show the overall vision of zero road deaths is long-term, but realistic.

Congratulating ITF on the award, Prince Michael of Kent, said, “The new report comes at a time when the world needs to change up a gear or two to accelerate efforts to reduce the unacceptable toll of death and serious injury on our roads. It is a most welcome addition to the all-important bank of knowledge available to governments, and a fine example of the leadership shown by ITF.”

José Viegas, Secretary-General of the ITF, commented, “Our new report wants to entice countries and cities to embark on a journey and turn their road traffic into a Safe System. This prestigious award is a fantastic encouragement for us.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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