Vision Zero is an initiative intended to make the roads and the cities of the United States safer. It emphasizes the four Es of highway safety.

Recently, a three-day statewide gathering on transportation was held in Columbia in mid-Missouri. The second annual Highway Safety and Traffic Blueprint Conference offered 15 workshops for industry professionals and those seeking to improve road safety, reported

This year’s program comprised traffic engineering topics focusing on what professionals refer to as the four E’s of highway safety (education, engineering, enforcement and emergency medical services).

The conference in Missouri in September included topics like pedestrian safety, safe bicycling and new vehicle technology.

One of the major presentations to kick off the gathering looked at the program called Missouri’s Blueprint – A Partnership Toward Zero Deaths.

Four Es of highway safety

Conference hears the Four Es of highway safety

It featured the city of Columbia’s Vision Zero plan.  The concept began in Sweden in 1997 and has been adopted by a host of American cities.

Columbia became the 22nd member of the American Vision Zero network earlier this year. There are 35 cities in the initiative.  Macon is the only Georgia city in the network.

The first U.S. city to adopt the program was New York City in 2014.  Columbia became the 22ndmember of the network of American Vision Zero cities earlier this year, which has since grown to about 35.

The Vision Zero concept followed alarming figures for pedestrian deaths in American cities.

A report in Fast Company noted that from 2003 to 2012 over 47,500 people in the country died while walking on the street, according to data from the National Complete Streets Coalition.

For many years, cities were built to meet the needs of the automobile. The article noted politicians are now starting to rethink the planning of their cities so that car crashes don’t kill so many people.

However, the results have been slow in many areas. To be effective Vision Zero requires a fundamental shift in how local authorities plan and design their streets. Safety has to be the first consideration before convenience. Design and data is needed before reckless road users are blamed.

Heather Cole, The Columbia program manager, said Vision Zero is focused on design. She said:

“There are three basic philosophies that go along with that – that safety is the most important factor, that traffic deaths and severe injuries are preventable and that transportation systems should be designed so that a user error does not result in a fatality.”

Columbia is aiming to have no traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030. Each city designs its own program based on factors such as demographics and population.  Columbia is concentrating on engineering, education, and enforcement.

The Columbia program is funded for the first three years via a $171,000 budget provided through the city council.

Swedish cities that have implemented Vision Zero report a 73 percent reduction in overall fatalities and a 50 percent reduction in pedestrian fatalities.

In recent years, pedestrians have gained more rights in Georgia, we note on our blog. However, cities like Atlanta remain dangerous places for walkers.

If you have been hurt on the highways, crosswalks or sidewalks of Georgia, please contact our personal injury lawyers here.