What Is Vision Zero?
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.
Safer streets mean fewer injuries—but also more healthful, active travel. Ultimately, a safe transportation network benefits 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 the comparison.
In July 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.
Five-Year Action Plan Adopted
The County Board adopted Arlington’s first five-year Vision Zero Action Plan in a public hearing on May 15, 2021.
The Action Plan sets a roadmap for this all-community effort to make our streets, trails, and pathways safer and will be tracked through regular assessment and reporting. Sign up for Vision Zero updates (at right) to stay involved.
Watch the County Board Wrap-Up on Vision Zero
Since the 2019 resolution, County staff developed a five-year action plan to work toward our goal of zero serious injuries or fatalities on our transportation system by 2030. The action plan identifies Vision Zero Safety Target Areas using the findings from data analysis and community engagement. These target areas define both subjective and objective areas we must improve to get to zero:
- High-Injury Network Corridors
- Work Zones
- Information Quality
- Transparency & Accountability
- Safety Culture
The Action Plan was adopted by the County Board in May 2021. This website provides information and links to the information on the Vision Zero program including maps and safety data, safety project implementation, engagement with the community, and how we’re measuring up to our targets.
Over 40 cities in the United States have made a commitment to Vision Zero. Places like New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles have demonstrated how the resources of a large city can work toward Vision Zero. Jurisdictions of smaller sizes (including Alexandria, Va.; Bellevue, Wash.; and Eugene, Ore.) 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 U.S. is the Vision Zero Network, which provides case studies, webinars, and other tools to improve Vision Zero efforts.
In preparation for developing Arlington County’s Vision Zero Action Plan, staff identified five Vision Zero communities to be examined in a peer review. The peer review included evaluation of the plans, policies, data, analytical processes, websites multimedia materials, and engagement strategies used by each of the peer agencies in their Vision Zero programs. The outcome was the "Arlington County Peer Agency Review: Vision Zero Practices & Strategies"—a white paper focused on exemplary work or lessons learned from each identified peer agency.