by Leah Shahum April 3, 2020 in Global Lessons, International, News, Webinars

Webinar Recap: Global Learnings for the U.S. Vision Zero Movement

We convened U.S. road safety leaders to discuss their key takeaways after attending the recent Global Road Safety Conference in early February in Stockholm, Sweden.

What did they consider the most important lessons for the growing Vision Zero movement in the U.S. after coming together with 1,500 people from 140 nations? And what more must we do to reach the  global goal to reduce traffic deaths by half by 2030 and reach Vision Zero by 2050, set during the gathering 

You can watch the recorded webinar, featuring a discussion amongst the following participants: Jeff Michael, Distinguished Scholar at Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health; Alison Collard de Beaufort, founder of the now-international Vision Zero Youth Council; David Braunstein, President of Together for Safer Roads (TSR), a social business coalition working on global road safety; Chana Widawski, Families for Safe Streets Organizer, NYC Transportation Alternatives; and moderated by the Vision Zero Network’s Leah Shahum.

Some of the key themes included the following:

  • Progress means change. Simply doing more of the same will not get us to the goal of safe mobility for all. It’s not just about trying harder but about doing things differently.
  • Build the Safe Systems principles into your Vision Zero efforts. (Find out more in our upcoming webinar)
  • Engage youth, who can energize this movement for road safety and lead change.
  • Work closely with the private sector, as many other countries do more proactively.
  • Leverage the procurement power of companies and government agencies to motivate safety improvements in vehicles.
  • Elevate the voices and experiences of victims and survivors of traffic violence for change.
  • Position road safety not as a “third party” or “special interest” but rather as integral to other important movements and vice versa (including sustainability, gender equity, access to jobs, and others)
  • Regardless of certain cultural differences, those of us in the U.S. are equally prone to the power of kinetic energy (i.e. speed kills) as others around the world, and we have a lot to learn from nations who effectively save lives by managing speed for safety (lowering speed limits, redesigning roadways, and using smart technology, such as automated speed enforcement).
  • Change isn’t easy, but it does happen, and locals are leading the way in the U.S. Vision Zero movement.

The group also discussed the timely question of how the current coronavirus pandemic may influence road safety efforts. Are there lessons we can learn in addressing the epidemic of 1.3M lives lost each year in road deaths?

The participants shared their thoughts, including these:

  • This is a strong reminder of how important public space is in our communities, and that far too much is dedicated to moving and storing cars rather than healthy people-use.
  • Safe travel is a public health priority.
  • Travel patterns may change significantly after this (including more telework options), which could improve many areas, including safety, air quality and public health.
  • Awareness may grow that many of our trips are less than a mile and could be taken by foot or bicycle or scooter, rather than by car, for many people.
  • While change will take political buy-in, it usually starts with community members voicing their beliefs that we can do better.

In addition to the webinar, we also encourage you to read our Vision Zero Global Lessons blog series, which features a piece by each of our distinguished webinar participants.

And these important resources — the Stockholm Declaration setting the goal of halving traffic deaths by 2030 and Saving Lives Beyond 2020: The Next Steps, Recommendations of the Academic Expert Group — were developed as part of the international convening and are important frameworks to reach #50by30. Let’s make sure the U.S. is part of this global movement for change and safety for all road users.

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