‘Vision Zero,’ a paradigm shift in traffic safety, coming to Portland Friday

Peter Jacobsen

Noted “Safety in Numbers” researcher and public health consultant Peter Jacobsen will bring the “Vision Zero” traffic safety concept to Portland on Friday. Jacobsen will speak about the topic as part of a seminar at Portland State University’s Center for Transportation Studies.

Jacobsen is currently in Salem where he’s taking part in the Oregon Traffic Safety Conference. Tomorrow, he’ll give a presentation on the links between transportation and health that will be followed by a Vision Zero workshop with ODOT State Traffic Engineer Ed Fischer.

Vision Zero began in Sweden in 1997 as a program with the goal of eliminating all traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2020.

Here’s more from a description of the event on Friday:

“Vision Zero is built around the basic idea that even if not all traffic crashes can be avoided, all severe injuries can, in principle, be avoided. Building a “safe system,” where all predicted crashes have tolerable health losses, requires a new roadway design philosophy. This new philosophy calls for shifting from the traditional preventing crashes to preventing health harm. This shift calls for switching from designing roads to have space for evasive action to managing the kinetic energy transferred in crashes to human bodies to be within its injury tolerance.”

It might sound crazy and audacious; but is it any crazier than accepting the daily carnage and tens of thousands of deaths and injuries on our roads each year?

I’m hoping to chat with Jacobsen for a quick interview sometime in the next few days. Stay tuned for that.

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