Edmonton is one of the Canadian cities part of the Vision Zero network, an ambitious plan that aims to reduce serious injuries and traffic fatalities. Based on a Swedish initiative from the ‘90s, the plan is characterized by four elements—responsibility, ethics, philosophy of safety, and putting in place mechanisms of change. Sweden now has the least number of traffic fatalities in the world. Canada adopted this plan in January 2016 as federal strategy. While every city has its own version of Vision Zero, the core focus of all is ensuring there are zero traffic deaths, ideally by 2032.
What Does Vision Zero Espouse?
One of the key principles of Vision Zero is that no loss of life is acceptable. Other highlights of this plan are:
- It focuses on the fact that serious injuries and traffic fatalities are preventable and it is the shared responsibility of people who use roads, as well as those who design and maintain roadways, to ensure this.
- It emphasizes that we all make mistakes and can be physically vulnerable when involved in a road accident. Thus, according to the principles of Vision Zero, it is essential to provide safety and guidance through operating speed and infrastructure.
- It advocates a systematic and proactive approach to creating a safe road system.
How Can Vision Zero Be Achieved?
Statistics indicate there has been a significant reduction in the number of injuries and fatalities on the roads of Edmonton over the past decade. While there were 8,246 injuries and deaths on Edmonton roads in 2006, this came down to 3,416 in 2017. This is partly attributed to changes in the road safety segment, including additional stop signs in place of yield signs.
However, a focused long-term strategy is crucial to the success of Vision Zero as it necessitates changes to infrastructure as well as to the entire traffic safety system. The city of Edmonton is working towards Vision Zero by chalking out a Safe System Approach. This is a holistic framework that evaluates and improves traffic safety by involving all aspects of the transportation system. The five E’s of traffic safety—Education, Engineering, Engagement, Enforcement, and Evaluation—are integral to this program.
- Education: Creating awareness about the need for safe behaviour on the road assumes priority under Vision Zero. There can be changes in driver behaviour only when the individual realizes that loss of life is not acceptable and personal choices can result in catastrophic effects.
- Engineering: This refers to the designing of the transportation in such a manner as to anticipate human error and thus, prevent the consequences from being death or serious injury.
- Engagement: It is essential for every citizen to be a part of the Vision Zero solution in order to ensure its success. Sharing the vision with family and friends, as well as encouraging participation by community groups like clubs and schools, is important.
- Enforcement: Automated enforcement devices, such as safety cameras, laser, and photo radar are being deployed in a phased manner to make the city’s streets safer. Intersection cameras, vehicle-mounted equipment, and handheld technology are all being used to achieve these goals.
- Evaluation: The city has introduced measures to determine when and why collisions happen. An evidence-based approach has been adopted to assess which of the safety initiatives are effective and what improvements can be further made.
How Can GFI Help?
Centralized fleet management systems like those provided by GFI can help monitor driver behaviour on the road and track vehicles in real time. When used in combination with telematics devices, such as GPS trackers, these can be extremely effective in achieving Vision Zero network goals over a period of time.
GFI also offers a fully compliant ELD solution that can be integrated with your fleet management system to facilitate efficient logging of time on the road to prevent instances of driver fatigue and thus, reduce the risk of accidents significantly.
While there is no single solution for all, a multidimensional approach using a combination of such methods and tailored to your specific requirements can prove vital in ensuring your contribution towards Vision Zero.
The success of the Vision Zero network depends on the extent of involvement of society as a whole – be it individuals, institutions, or organizations. Participating in awareness initiatives and putting into practice the principles of Vision Zero are crucial here. Encouraging others to do so and being proactive about your role in the movement is equally essential.