Vision Zero – a road safety policy innovation

  • Published: International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion, Volume 19, Issue 2, 2012
  • Authors: M.A. Belin, P. Tillgren, E. Vedung
  • Date Added: 12 Feb 2016
  • Last Update: 12 Feb 2016
  • Format: pdf


To examine Sweden’s Vision Zero


Analysis of how safety issues were framed, which decisions were made, and what are the distinctive features of Vision Zero.

Key Findings:

  • Vision Zero as a road safety policy, adopted by the Swedish Parliament, represents an innovative and radical approach to the promotion of an alternative framework in Sweden with regard to road safety problem formulation, views on responsibility, attitudes to the demands of road users for safety, and the ultimate objective of road safety work.

  • Although some promising results have been reported, there is a need for a comprehensive assessment of the implementation and outcomes of Vision Zero policy. The paper has demonstrated that behind the commonly cited low road safety fatality in Sweden and road safety policy, lies a long tradition of systematic road safety work that has involved the taking of key political decisions by the Government and Parliament.

  • Vision Zero entails a shift in the road safety planning paradigm. Instead of starting from an existing problem situation, Vision Zero departs from an absolute state of the future – safe road traffic.

  • As a policy, Vision Zero requires a planning model that involves what is called – ‘back-casting’. In this way, Vision Zero is not only a long-term goal but also a means for driving the development of new measures and new approaches that may be both less expensive and more effective than those available today.

  • The goal of the global plan in the Decade of Action for Road Safety of stabilising, and then reducing, the forecast level of road traffic fatalities around the world by 2020 requires radical alternatives to those entailed by the traditional approach to road safety. This goal may not be achieved if the approach is ‘business as usual’ with regard to the implementation of effective road safety measures.


Road safety management, Effectiveness, Evidence, Policy


An alternative approach to road safety policy