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Zero Deaths

FHWA is committed to the vision of eliminating fatalities and serious injuries on our Nation's roadways. This approach echoes the Department of Transportation's Strategic Plan, which articulates the goal of "working toward no fatalities across all modes of travel"; the FHWA's strategic goal of ensuring the "nation's highway system provides safe, reliable, effective, and sustainable mobility for all users"; and the emphasis on safety that FHWA renews every year in our strategic implementation efforts.

The zero deaths vision is a way of clearly and succinctly describing how an organization, or an individual, is going to approach safety – even one death on our transportation system is unacceptable. This idea was first adopted in Sweden in 1997 as "Vision Zero" and since then has evolved across the country and across the world. A growing number of states and cities have adopted zero deaths visions under different brandings.

The zero deaths approach uses a data-driven, interdisciplinary approach that FHWA has been promoting for many years. The approach targets areas for improvement and employs proven countermeasures, integrating application of education, enforcement, engineering, and emergency medical and trauma services (the "4Es"). A combination of strategies from different focus areas will be necessary to achieve the zero deaths vision.

Within FHWA, the Office of Safety, Office of Safety Research and Development, and the Resource Center Safety and Design Technical Services Team jointly established a Safety Strategic Plan to focus on a common safety vision. The vision – zero deaths and serious injuries on the Nation's roadways – is being realized through annual performance objectives in each of the three safety units.

FHWA administers the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) with the goal to achieve a significant reduction in traffic fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads. The HSIP requires that each State develop a Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP). The SHSP is a data-driven, multi-year, statewide-coordinated safety plan that provides a comprehensive framework for reducing highway fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads. An SHSP identifies a State's key safety needs and guides investment decisions towards strategies and countermeasure with the most potential to save lives and prevent injuries. The collaborative process of developing and implementing an SHSP brings together, and draws on, the strengths and resources of all safety partners.

In addition, the FHWA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) are working with the National Safety Council (NSC) on a national road safety leadership initiative titled Road to Zero. This initiative involves a national coalition of representatives from roadway, behavioral, and vehicle safety; nonprofit groups; public health organization; and technology companies working together to develop a coordinated approach to reaching zero deaths. The RTZ Coalition is focusing on both short-term activities, including funding for innovative safety activities, and on a long-term vision for zero traffic deaths.

In another effort, also along with NHTSA and FMCSA, FHWA provided technical support to a group of organizations that represent professionals with an active role in highway safety, led by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. This group developed the National Strategy on Highway Safety Toward Zero Deaths (National Strategy) – an overarching and common vision that drives and focuses collective efforts to eliminate injuries and fatalities on America's roads.

The National Strategy's vision calls for a highway system free of fatalities. Safety organizations and professionals embracing this vision agree to aggressively work toward an intermediate goal specific to their jurisdiction or the safety issue on which they focus. These stakeholders continuously expand their efforts to improve highway safety and are committed to do more of what they know works, while also using new approaches, materials, and technologies to reach safety goals sooner.

At FHWA, we believe that a single death is a tragedy; almost 90 deaths a day is unacceptable when we possess the tools and capability to help prevent them. Reaching zero deaths will be difficult, will take time and will require significant effort from all of us; but it is the only acceptable vision. We're not at zero yet, but we know that by working together we will see a day when there are no fatalities on the Nation's roadways, sidewalks and bicycle paths.

Related Links

Road to Zero

Road to Zero press release

National Strategy on Highway Safety Toward Zero Deaths

Vision Zero Initiative

Vision Zero Network 

TRB Vision Towards Zero Deaths Subcommittee (ANB 10(9))

Page last modified on June 19, 2017
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