VISION ZERO - Driving as a Risk Factor

Vision Zero CanadaTodd Litman of the Victoria Transportation Policy Institute (VTPI) says that Vision Zero will require a change in the way driving risks are measured and future safety strategies are evaluated.

The old paradigm assumed that automobile travel is safe overall and focused crash reduction programs on special risks such as impaired and distracted driving. The new paradigm recognizes that all vehicle travel imposes risks, so exposure, the total amount people drive, is a risk factor.

Todd provides examples in an article on Planitizen. One is that safer roads with grade separation, wider lanes, and more clear-space increase roadway costs and, by inducing more vehicle travel, increase traffic problems. Because they feel safer, wider and straighter roads encourage drivers to take additional incremental risks, such as driving slightly faster or being distracted, a phenomenon called risk compensation.

He also says that "This is not to suggest that traffic safety requires eliminating all driving: some vehicle travel is necessary. However, much driving at the moment is not. Surveys indicate that many people would prefer to drive less, spend less time and money on driving, and rely more on alternatives, provided they are convenient, comfortable, and affordable."

Read the full paper on the VTPI website.

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