3,300 – that is the number of road fatalities in Germany last year, caused by the lack of attention in traffic. The aim of “Vision Zero” is to reduce this number to practically zero. Our traffic system is yet not able to correct human errors, which in the worst case can be punished with death.

Vision Zero – what does it mean and what is the concept for?

It is intended to promise that no road deaths and serious injuries will be caused in future accidents. Initially, the vision was based on occupational health and safety and was first applied in the public transport sector in Sweden at the end of the 1990s. Vision Zero’s intention is to save human lives. The United Nations expect by 2020 that the number of road deaths worldwide will rise from 1.3 to 1.9 million. After all, the World Organization hopes to reverse the trend and reduce the accident rate to zero.

To what extent can the number of traffic victims be reduced over the next few years?

Sweden is an example:

There is no other country in the world with such a low number of road deaths. Since 1997, Sweden has had Vision Zero on its political agenda.

While the number of road deaths is rising in Germany, it is falling in Sweden.

What needs to happen to make Vision Zero a reality?

To make Vision Zero possible, the following conditions must be clear:

People always make mistakes. The traffic has to deal with these mistakes and forgive them. For this reason, it is necessary to transform road safety into a social principle. The task of the automotive industry should be to prevent human error by further developing safety and assistance systems.

More road safety through:

1. New legal requirements:

  • Speed limit regulations
    In Sweden, inner cities are supposed to be 40 km/h everywhere in the long term, this is already the case in many swedish cities. 1,500 speedometers are spread all over the country. A photo is expensive: Speeders have to expect penalties from 150 to 250 Euro.
  • The installation of “Alcolocks” in vehicles
    In 90,000 Swedish buses, taxis and trucks, “Alcolocks” are installed on a voluntary basis: the vehicle cannot be moved until the driver has demonstrated his sobriety by blowing into the pipe. In Sweden, the motto is: either you drink or you drive. The blood alcohol limit has been lowered from 0.5 to 0.2, which is about the equivalent of two beers.

2. Through technology and road construction:

  • Road building
    Traffic barriers were placed between the lanes. In addition, there are now more roundabouts in Sweden. The result: The number of fatal accidents on these roads fell by 90 percent.
  • Safety in the car
    Volvo is already working on “Vision 2020”. The Swedish company was the first producer to present an airbag that protects pedestrians: In case of danger, airbags unfold on the engine hood. Since 2000, VolvoCars has also been working to reduce the risk of being injured as a passenger in one of its vehicles in the event of an accident by 50 percent.
  • Autonomous driving
    With the help of modern technology and artificial intelligence, an autonomous vehicle can independently drive the passenger without him having to observe the system. In total, there are five levels which lead to the goal of fully automated driving. Since 90 percent of all accidents are caused by human error, the number can be further reduced depending on the level of automation. Driving assistance systems such as cruise control, lane departure warning or emergency brake assistance can already reduce the number of accidents today.
When does Vision Zero become reality in the EU?

Several countries have already added the concept of a world without road deaths to their political program. In addition to Sweden, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland are also further ahead than Germany. Germany’s Road Safety Council says that by 2050 there will be nearly no fatalities on European roads.

It is questionable if Germans are willing to implement these policies. Especially when it comes to the implementation of a speed limit or a lowered blood alcohol limit, many drivers might disagree. In order to achieve the utopian vision of zero fatalities on the roads, an interaction of law, economy and technology is necessary. There is no doubt, it is necessary, to prioritize human lives.

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