North Dakota has a new Vision Zero Plan! The Vision Zero Plan (formerly known as the Strategic Highway Safety Plan [SHSP] Update, 2018-2023) is the result of a comprehensive and coordinated effort by North Dakota state agencies and more than 200 traffic safety partners representing state, local and tribal governments and private organizations.

Vision Zero is an international movement that aims to, over time, decrease to zero the number of people killed or seriously injured in a community’s road transport system – from its neighborhood streets to its major highways.

A core principle and distinguishing characteristic of Vision Zero is that “life and health can never be exchanged for other benefits within the society” – this is in contrast to more commonly used “cost and benefit”models that place a monetary value on risk to life and health, and that then use that value to justify or select investments to reduce risk to users of a community’s road network.

Another key distinguishing characteristic of Vision Zero is that it assigns responsibility for safety to both system designers and system users, elevating the role that the design choices made in determining a transportation system’s configuration (both in its overall framework and in the configuration of specific segments) play in increasing or decreasing harm to system users.

This approach is in clear contrast to the current practice, which generally assigns responsibility to system users only – Vision Zero explicitly states that the responsibility for safety is shared by system designers and system users:

  • The designers of the system are always ultimately responsible for the design, operation and use of the road transport system and thereby responsible for the level of safety within the entire system
  • Road users are responsible for following the rules for using the road transport system set by the system designers
  • If road users fail to obey these rules due to lack of knowledge, acceptance or ability, or if injuries occur, the system designers are required to take necessary further steps to counteract people being killed or seriously injured

The detailed plan uses data to identify areas of improvement through education, roadway safety enhancements and policy decisions.