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New York City to “borrow” Swedish safety program for less road deaths

Published by on May 14, 2014 in News Leave a comment

New York Vision Zero

In 1997, Sweden was the first country in the world to adopt the so-called Vision Zero traffic safety program, whose purpose was to eliminate car crashes that led to deaths or serious injuries. This set of laws is based on the principle that nothing is above human life and health, so even some of the rules are annoying, the price is insignificant compared to the lives it saves. For example, wherever there’s a location with the slightest chance of a car hitting pedestrians, the speed limit is 19 mph (30 km/h). The only places where speed limits are higher is where pedestrian traffic is clearly separated from car traffic.

The system is also applied to traffic outside cities, so in areas where there’s a possibility of a side or frontal impact between two cars, the speed limit is 43 mph and the only places with a speed limit higher than that are highways. All these speed limits are set depending on the human tolerance to impacts (a pedestrian lives if hit by a car traveling slower than 19 mph and a driver will most likely survive a crash if speed is lower than 43 mph).

The results of this set of laws is amazing and it turned Sweden into the country with the lowest number of road deaths in the world. For example, only 264 people lost their lives in Sweden last year, while in the United States there were 290 deaths in New York alone. It’s true, Sweden has less than 10 million citizens (which is half of New York), but still, the results are impressive and no one argues about how effective the Vision Zero law is. And in order to make streets safer for New Yorkers, Mayor Bill De Blasio is currently working on adapting the laws to New York and to do that he is consulting with local authorities from Sweden.

Some rules are already going into effect, with some areas now having a 25 mph speed limit (compared to 30 mph before) and with 120 new speed camera installed throughout the city. The purpose is to further decrease the number of road deaths in New York (already down 26% since 2001) and completely eradicate them by 2024. While this might seem impossible, the fact is that street will definitely get safer and that’s all that matters.

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