Vision Zero saves lives
Shifting an entire system from unsafe to safe is not just an aspiration. Many US cities have adopted safety-first programs, to varying degrees of success. Vision Zero, Injury Minimization, and Safe Systems programs affirm safety as the top transportation priority and the most effective way to eliminate traffic fatalities. Establishing a safety-first program:
> Signals a commitment to zero traffic deaths on city streets
> Asserts a belief that such a goal is attainable
> Accepts the role of officials, engineers, and planners in making streets safer
Safety-first programs recognize that although human error is inevitable, fatalities and severe injuries are preventable through street design and management choices. Successful safety programs systematically change the way streets operate to keep users safe, even when individuals make mistakes.
Sweden has created one of the most successful Vision Zero programs to date. In 1997, when Sweden adopted its Vision Zero program, there were more than 7 traffic deaths per 100,000 people. Today, despite more than 20 years of growth in traffic volume, this number has dropped to 3 people per 100,000.
US Aviation makes an impact
By nearly every measure, commercial aviation is the safest transportation mode in the United States. There were 3 fatal crashes between 2010 and 2017, compared to 17 fatal crashes in 1960 alone. These safety gains are the result of systemwide, interdisciplinary approaches to managing risk on the part of regulators and the commercial aviation industry.
In 1997, the White House Commission on Aviation Safety & Security and the National Civil Aviation Review Commission released reports calling for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and airlines to work together to reduce fatal accidents. In response, the FAA partnered with airlines to form the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST), which uses incident data to discern safety priorities, deploys interdisciplinary teams to determine underlying crash causes, and applies interventions based on their findings.
In 2009, Continental Flight 3407 crashed, killing all 49 people on board and one person on the ground. Pilot error and fatigue were the listed causes. By 2013, the FAA dramatically increased both training and rest requirements for pilots. Humans in the commercial aviation industry make mistakes. However, a systems approach to safety has resulted in substantive safety gains across the entire industry.