Sweden has a plan to end all traffic accident deaths

Stefan Lofven 2018

Mr Stefan LOFVEN, Swedish Prime Minister. Shoot location: Bruxelles – BELGIUM. Shoot date: 23/03/2018. Copyright: European Union

This article is brought to you based on the strategic cooperation of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Adam Jezard, Formative Content

In 2015, over a million people lost their lives in road-related incidents around the world, according to a report by the World Health Organization. Road accidents remain the leading cause of death among young people aged 15 and 29, costing governments globally about 3% of GDP every year.

Number of people who die from road traffic accidents per year.
Image: World Health Organisation

“Despite this massive – and largely preventable – human and economic toll,” the WHO said, “action to combat this global challenge has been insufficient.”

But while some nations have resorted to public safety campaigns extolling sticking to speed limits, wearing seatbelts and not drinking and driving, Sweden has gone a step further.

Zero tolerance

In 1997 Sweden introduced the Zero Vision policy that aimed to reduce the number of road-accident fatalities to zero by 2020. Reducing the danger required physical changes on the roads and new policies to enforce traffic laws.

There are now more roundabouts, fewer intersections, and vehicles cannot turn where people cross streets. More pedestrian bridges have been built, bicycles are separated from oncoming traffic and strict policing has reduced the number of drink-driving offences.

Since the scheme began, road deaths have almost halved. 270 people died in road accidents in Sweden in 2016. Twenty years earlier the figure was 541.

Compare that to the United States, where 41,100 people died in road-related incidents in 2017, according to Federal Highway Administration statistics. A look back to 1964 shows that 45,645 people died as a result of road accidents that year. That’s not much of an improvement in more than half a century, although it should be set against the context of population growth and an increase in the number of vehicles on the road.

A global example

While Sweden’s progress looks dramatic, it has struggled to meet its goal. The target date for zero deaths has been pushed back from 2020 to 2050.

Despite this, the Swedish example has been held up as a model by many governments and states. Parts of Canada, Norway, various US states and some European Union countries have all experimented with variations of the Vision Zero scheme.

If the wider world can replicate the progress made in Sweden, many lives will be saved, and there are already signs of improvement in some regions.

Many experts point to more rigorous tests for new drivers in Europe as one reason why its roads are safer than those of other countries. Some 25,300 people lost their lives in accidents on roads in EU member states in 2017, but that was almost 15,000 fewer than in the US.

It can cost more than $1,800 to learn to drive in Sweden and can be even more expensive elsewhere in Europe. In contrast, many Americans can get licences inexpensively and without the need for much tuition.

Changing the mindset

In Sweden, one of the biggest changes may be how road deaths were perceived. In a 2014 interview, one of the country’s leading road safety strategists, Matts-Åke Belin, said the hardest people to convince that Vision Zero was worth trying had been political economists.

“For them it is very difficult to buy into “zero”,” Belin said. “In their economic models, you have costs and benefits, and although they might not say it explicitly, the idea is that there is an optimum number of fatalities. A price that you have to pay for transport.”

Changing that kind of mindset may be a crucial part of ensuring that the number of road deaths falls globally.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Africa is launching the world’s largest free trade area – but these are the stumbling blocks

South Africa still hasn’t won LGBTQ+ equality. Here are 5 reasons why

Political solution ‘long overdue’ to protect the children of eastern Ukraine

Commission refers Denmark to the Court for failing to fulfil its obligations in relation to the name “Feta”

Monday’s Daily Brief: WFP mulls ‘last resort’ Yemen aid suspension, top peacekeeping awardee announced, abuzz over Bee Day, Ebola threat ‘very high’

Superconductors: the miracle materials powering an energy revolution

Syria: Why did the US now take the Russian offer for a truce? What next?

Myanmar: Conflict resolution at ‘total standstill’, military commanders must answer for crimes against humanity

Brexit: With May gone the Tory divide is to sink the UK despite Brits wanting to ‘Remain’

Roxane in Cambodia

The European Sting @ the European Business Summit 2014 – Where European Business and Politics shape the future

How to outsmart bias when you’re recruiting

Eurozone cannot endure any longer youth marginalisation

Gender Equality and medicine in the 21st Century: we want the fair share

Burned in the Amazonian forest: Your health may be in danger

This is what happens when a school swaps french fries for quinoa

Without tackling ‘gross inequalities’ major issues will go unsolved, warns UN rights chief Bachelet

Post-Brexit muddled times: the resignation of UK’s top ambassador and Theresa May’s vague plans

UN chief lauds Fijians as ‘natural global leaders’ on climate, environment, hails ‘symbiotic relationship’ with land and sea

AI can be a game-changer for the world’s forests. Here’s how

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte: “Europe must listen to the people”

These are the world’s most future-proof cities

Is the EU denying its social character favouring a banking conglomerate?

INTERVIEW: UN’s top official in North Korea foresees ‘surge’ in humanitarian aid

FROM THE FIELD: ‘Harvested’ rainwater saves Tanzanian students from stomach ulcers, typhoid

Guterres says justice must be done following deadly Burkina Faso convoy attack

Consumer protection: Commission welcomes political agreement by Council on the Representative Actions Directive

Armed groups threaten every child in Central African Republic, UNICEF warns

Zero carbon by 2050 is possible. Here is what we need to do

Croatian Presidency priorities discussed in the European Parliament

Nearly 180,000 displaced by northeast Syria fighting as needs multiply: UN refugee agency

Blockchain will make sure green pledges aren’t just greenwash: a new initiative by young leaders at the World Economic Forum

‘Open, cordial, and frank discussions’ held over future Somalia-UN relationship

Gender Equality in Medicine: are we now so different from the Middle Ages?

How can we build a workforce for our digital future?

On youth unemployment: unemployment is even bleaker for youth with disabilities

Trump’s pounding of Iran less harsh than expected, leaves arrangement open

Young activists do the talking as UN marks World Children’s Day

A Sting Exclusive: “One year on from the VW scandal and EU consumers are still in the dark”, BEUC’s Head highlights from Brussels

Chart of the day: These countries have the highest share of electric vehicles

Chicken soup for the digital soul: how to bring community back online

These are America’s most dangerous jobs

EU Parliament: Follow the fraudulent money and confiscate it

Poverty data never tells the whole story

Online shopping across the EU to be easier from 3 December

Visiting North Korea, UN relief chief spotlights funding shortfall to meet humanitarian needs

Monday’s Daily Brief: #ClimateAction for the Pacific, Gaza blockade, attack in Burkina Faso

EU leading in global agri-food trade

Medical deserts in the European Union: the practicalities of universal health coverage

Top UN officials strongly condemn ‘horrible terrorist act’ in Nairobi

EU’s guidelines on net neutrality see the light although grey areas do remain

Yemen: UN envoy asks Security Council for more support ‘to move back’ to the negotiating table

Amazon sinks while our breath sinks

Greece @ MWC14: Greek-born mobile champions at MWC 2014

This is what’s happening to the Amazon, according to NASA

Service and Sacrifice: Ugandan ‘Blue Helmets’ support UN efforts to bring peace to Somalia

TTIP is not dead as of yet, the 15th round of negotiations in New York shouts

Taliban-led violence during recent Afghan polls leaves record high numbers of civilians dead – UN

The great challenge of the 21st century is learning to consume less. This is how we can do it

Civil society organisations disenchanted with “Youth Guarantee”

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s