SOURCE: DEKRA North America, Inc.

DEKRA North America, Inc.

June 22, 2015 11:37 ET

DEKRA Reports on "Vision Zero" Status in United States; Offers Recommendations to Reduce Road Fatalities and Injuries

ATLANTA, GA--(Marketwired - Jun 22, 2015) -  DEKRA has launched the first online tool to track the status of "Vision Zero" -- a multinational road traffic safety project that aims to eliminate traffic-related fatalities -- in the United States. The interactive map, which can be accessed at http://www.dekra-vision-zero.com/map/, utilizes data from the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) on the number of road fatalities recorded from 2010 to 2013 in 736 cities and towns across the country with 50,000 or more inhabitants.

According to DEKRA Accident Research, which has researched and analyzed urban accidents for decades, the DOT data shows that achieving zero fatalities is a feasible goal on a local level; towns and small cities with higher fatality rates should be an area of focus; and every U.S. citizen has a role to play in improving road safety.

"Vision Zero is no utopia," said Walter Niewoehner, Team Leader, Accident Research at DEKRA, who oversaw the development of the interactive map. "The goal of zero traffic accident-related fatalities has already been achieved in hundreds of cities and towns across Europe, and in many urban areas across the United States."

For the four-year period for which accident statistics were analyzed, a total of 115 towns and cities with a population of more than 50,000 achieved Vision Zero at least once. This means that each of those 115 urban areas had at least one year with no road fatalities -- no pedestrian, bicyclist, motorcyclist, or occupant of a car, truck, or bus died after an accident. Thirty-three of these towns and cities achieved zero fatalities more than once in the four-year period. 

Six cities have achieved the goal four years in a row -- with no deaths caused by road accidents. This includes: Lake Forest, Yorba Linda, and Aliso Viejo California; Sammamish, Washington; Carson City, Nevada; and Wheaton, Illinois. Illinois led the pack with more than half of all cities over 50,000 inhabitants in the state having achieved zero fatalities at least once. The largest U.S. cities that achieved zero fatalities at least once in the four-year period are Lakewood, WA (pop. 118,000); Ann Arbor, MI (117,000); Provo, UT (116,000); El Monte, CA (116,000); and Fargo, ND (114,000).

"By identifying the specific contributing factors that have been influential in reducing accidents and fatalities in some of these areas, it might be possible to implement similar programs elsewhere and replicate those successes," said Niewoehner. 

DEKRA has identified several specific areas of action for cities and towns that want to make progress towards Vision Zero. In urban areas, the infrastructure is a key factor in road safety. For example, in all complex traffic situations -- whether at intersections, on multilane roads, or at public transportation stops -- the layout must be as clear as possible for all road users. Additional infrastructure priorities include creating and/or optimizing inner-city cycle paths and upgrading street lighting.

Significantly increasing the number of vehicles equipped with automated driver assistance systems -- particularly pedestrian detection, blind spot assist, lane change assist, and cross traffic alert -- also has great potential for preventing accidents.

However, the most important area of focus should be on educational campaigns aimed at the behavior of drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. "More cooperative coexistence in road traffic is absolutely essential," said Niewoehner. "To achieve Vision Zero, the most important point to remember is that each and every individual must take personal responsibility for their own safety and the safety of their passengers, as well as all other road users."

In 2014, three major U.S. cities -- Boston, New York, and San Francisco -- began implementing Vision Zero, while Chicago began a similar program in 2012. According to the Vision Zero Action Plan for New York City, "while traffic fatalities nationwide are falling, largely due to improvements in emergency/trauma care and vehicle enhancements such as airbags, fatality rates in states that have participated in Vision Zero fell over 25 percent faster than the nation since 1997."

"DEKRA has been committed to improving safety on the road for nearly 90 years," said Donald O. Nicholson, CEO and President of DEKRA North America. "Rather than accepting traffic-related fatalities and injuries as inevitable, Vision Zero allows us to understand traffic accidents as the result of a series of actions that can be changed or prevented through enforcement, education and design. We look forward to offering our road safety expertise to help reduce and eliminate traffic-related injuries and fatalities in the U.S."

About Vision Zero

Begun in Sweden in October 1997, Vision Zero is based on four principles. Ethics: Human life and health are paramount and take priority over mobility and other objectives of the road traffic system. Responsibility: providers and regulators of the road traffic system share responsibility with users. Safety: road traffic systems should take account of human fallibility and minimize both the opportunities for errors and the harm done when they occur. Mechanisms for change: providers and regulators must do their utmost to guarantee the safety of all citizens; they must cooperate with road users; and all three must be ready to change to achieve safety.

About DEKRA

DEKRA has been active in the field of safety for 90 years. Founded in 1925 in Berlin, Germany, the company is one of the world's leading expert organizations today. DEKRA generated sales of around EUR 2.5 billion in 2014. The company currently employs around 35,000 people in more than 50 countries on all five continents. DEKRA North America is headquartered in Marietta, Georgia. DEKRA's qualified and independent experts work for safety on the road, at work and at home. Services range from vehicle inspection and expert appraisals to claims services, industrial and building inspections, safety consultancy, testing and certification of products and systems, as well as training courses and temporary work.

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