What is Vision Zero?

Dec 2, 2021 | Road Safety

Vision Zero aims to reduce traffic fatalities worldwide to zero. Seem impossible? With our current status quo, maybe. But the changes that Vision Zero proposes have proven effective in several European cities, and now many North American cities are implementing the same ideas. For example, in the City of Edmonton, the project has resulted in a reduction of 60% of deaths due to traffic accidents in just a few years.

The project’s key parts include:

  • Changing public opinion from accepting “accidents” as unavoidable to thinking of collisions as preventable.
  • Understanding that human drivers make mistakes, and designing road systems so that when mistakes occur, they result in smaller collisions with less loss of life.
  • Integrating many different levels of policymakers, law enforcement, infrastructure designers, and the general public so that effective change is implemented, supported and enforced.

At the Ottawa Safety Council, we share the goal of reducing traffic fatalities to zero and are actively working to implement many of the Vision Zero project plans. While the City of Ottawa aims to reduce traffic fatalities by 20% by 2024, and all the way to zero by 2035, we believe we can get there sooner.

Early road safety education

It’s important for all members of our community to be aware of the rules of the road and to work together to make sure everyone is safe. When it comes to minimizing injuries and preventing fatalities as a pedestrian or cyclist, the more education, the better. 

Our WalkSafe program is perfect for teachers in classrooms to introduce safe walking guidelines to children as young as kindergarten age. With graduated programs working up to the middle school years, we can help our most vulnerable pedestrians keep themselves as safe as possible from an early age. Meanwhile, our CycleSafe program does the same for young cyclists. It introduces road rules, hand signals and safety advice to children as soon as they’re able to get up on two wheels. 

For parents of babies and younger children, visit our website for car seat and booster seat installation resources.

Road safety programs

The Vision Zero plan calls for wide-sweeping changes in policies, laws, and road design, but there are smaller concrete changes that our local communities can make, too. One thing you can do to get involved is to join our team of crossing guards. Every day, people are making a real difference in the lives of young students as they head to school, making school zones safer and being an active part of their community.

Our walking school bus program, which guides groups of school children to and from school on foot, is also helping our community head towards Vision Zero. Students are learning pedestrian safety from a young age with the help of a leader, and are able to get comfortable with being part of our transportation system. Early walkers grow up to be healthy, safe adult walkers.

Driver training

All operators of vehicles on the road require proper licensing and training to ensure they know the rules of the road. As policies and laws change, it’s important to keep upgrading your skills and making sure, as a driver, you’re following best practices at all times.

Motorcycles are among the more vulnerable vehicles on the road, which means they require more training when it comes to driving defensively. Our motorcycle training programs make sure motorcycle drivers are ready to react quickly to keep themselves safe on the road.

Community engagement

Lastly, it’s important to keep safe commuting at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians must work together to respect each other and be open to change where new policies can help improve road safety. As part of the front line of road safety, we use this blog and our social media channels to keep our community informed. 

If you haven’t yet, consider taking our RoadSMARTS Pledge. It’s a way to educate your whole family and emphasize that we’re all in this together when it comes to reducing roadway fatalities to zero.

We believe in Vision Zero! Join us and let’s all work together to make it happen.