Vision Zero started in Sweden in 1997, where the principles were first set in place. The Swedish Parliament adopted a simple policy that the loss of life was an unacceptable price to pay for mobility. The underlying principal was that simply blaming drivers for accidents was not the answer. The focus should instead be on making roads and road designs safer. Today, Sweden has one of the lowest traffic fatality rates in the world, and they won’t stop until they get to zero.
Eventually, word began to spread and Sweden’s success has now recently become well documented. A number countries around the world have adopted elements of their philosophies and have begun making changes in the way they look at infrastructure design, roadway designs, and traffic flows. The Unites States is among those countries that have taken notice and individual cities across our nation have begun adopting some of these principals. A few short years ago, there were no Vision Zero Cities in the US, but now 33 cities have made the public goal and more are signing on. The hallmarks of the movement are cross-disciplinary coalitions involving not just the traffic office but the mayor’s office, public health officials, police chiefs, all working together.
Technology Can Help Solve the Problem
In 2015, MEMA (Motor Equipment Manufacturers Association) commissioned BCG (Boston Consulting Group) to conduct a study to understand how new car safety technologies were impacting overall road safety. The study concluded that almost 33,000 Americans are killed in motor vehicle accidents each year. In addition, nearly 4 million non-fatal injuries also occur. These events end up costing society nearly 1 Trillion dollars annually – an astonishing 6% of GDP.
They concluded that ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) technologies could dramatically impact change. They estimated that ADAS technologies have the ability to impact fatalities by 30% (10,000 lives saved annually) and that these technologies can provide a pathway to partially and fully autonomous vehicles that could virtually eliminate traffic fatalities. Together, ADAS and autonomous technology could reduce traffic fatalities by 90%.
Making Vehicles Safer in the Automotive Aftermarket
Jeff Varick (founder of Vision Zero Automotive Network) saw an opportunity to help. Combining both what he knew of the Vision Zero Sweden success story and the BCG study, Jeff decided that the missing piece to this puzzle was the 250 million registered vehicles on US roads today. Of those vehicles, only a small percentage of them contain any or all of these potentially life-saving ADAS technologies. What he realized was that there is an entire industry of manufacturers and retailers that are currently selling and installing ADAS technologies that can retrofit just about all cars. The bottom line is this… if we can make the roads safer, that would save lives. If we can make the cars safer, that would also save lives. Vision Zero Automotive Network is about combining these two concepts.