“Mobility and safety at the same time.”
With New York City looking to Sweden as the inspiration for its Vision Zero plan, it’s worth asking what Sweden actually did to lower traffic fatality and injury rates. What balance should be struck between engineering, enforcement, and education? The Economist takes a closer look:
Planning has played the biggest part in reducing accidents. Roads in Sweden are built with safety prioritised over speed or convenience. Low urban speed-limits, pedestrian zones and barriers that separate cars from bikes and oncoming traffic have helped. Building 1,500 kilometres (900 miles) of “2+1” roads—where each lane of traffic takes turns to use a middle lane for overtaking—is reckoned to have saved around 145 lives over the first decade of Vision Zero. And 12,600 safer crossings, including pedestrian bridges and zebra-stripes flanked by flashing lights and protected with speed-bumps, are estimated to have halved the number of pedestrian deaths over the past five years. Strict policing has also helped: now less than 0.25% of drivers tested are over the alcohol limit. Road deaths of children under seven have plummeted—in 2012 only one was killed, compared with 58 in 1970.
As the article notes, Sweden isn’t at zero traffic deaths yet, although it has cut the number of people killed on its roads in half since the year 2000.