Zero Traffic Deaths: Visions for Road Safety

Expert says NZ should aim for zero road toll

More than 400 people are killed on the roads every year in New Zealand, but a visiting Swedish traffic safety expert says we should be much more ambitious in our policies and aim for zero road deaths. Professor Claes Tingvall is the controversial keynote speaker at a seminar at the University of Otago, Wellington this week and has been invited to enhance discussion of road safety in this country.

I attended this presentation today.

Some of it is drawn from this presentation: (

My notes:

Professor Claes Tingvall, Monash Uni and Swedish Road Administration

"Foreigners can say things you can't say in your own country."

Vision Zero does not mean zero fatalities.

It is:

1. a vision for stakeholders

2. an ethical position

3. implies shared responsibility

4. a driving force for change

5. a safety philosophy.

Rather than aim for incremental improvements, vision zero is a rethinking of how we design our transport system.

Ethical platform: life and health are paramont. And cannot be traded against other benefits. Mobility is a function of the safety level.

 Volvo has set a target of zero deaths and serious injuries for anyone in or struck by a Volvo car, by 2020.

Tylosand Declaration

1. Everyone has the right to use roads and streets without threats to life or health
2. Everyone has the right to safe and sustainable mobility: safety and sustainability in road transport should complement each other
3. Everyone has the right to use the road transport system without unintentionally imposing any threats to life or health on others
4. Everyone has the right to information about safety problems and the level of safety of any component, product, action or service within the road transport system
5. Everyone has the right to expect systematic and continuous improvement in safety: any stakeholder within the road transport system has the obligation to undertake corrective actions following the detection of any safety hazard that can be reduced or removed.

Our speed limit system should be based on safety, not mobility.

The responsibility for safety is on the designers and producers of the transport system. The users are responsible for following the rules set by the designers.

ESC= electronic stability control is an effective injury reduction feature now found on 97% of new cars in Sweden - without regulation. Customer demand drove the uptake in just 5 years. But don't leave it to the market - govt needs to advocate for it. 

Road design: old philosophy = straight, wide roads, lots of rules.
Safety philosophy = speed limits, based on biomechanics and road crashwortiness.