Vision Zero in New York State

VisionZeroWhat do we mean by “Vision Zero”?

Vision Zero is exactly what it sounds like — it’s the vision of a future without any traffic fatalities or severe injuries, while continuing to increase safe, healthy and equitable human-powered transportation.

Vision Zero originated in Sweden in the late 1990s and has evolved to the U.S. with these core principles:

  1. Traffic deaths and severe injuries are acknowledged to be preventable.
  2. Human life and health are prioritized within all aspects of transportation systems.
  3. Acknowledgment that human error is inevitable, and transportation systems should be forgiving.
  4. Safety work should focus on systems-level changes above influencing individual behavior.
  5. Speed is recognized and prioritized as the fundamental in crash severity.

Source: Vision Zero Network, Moving from Vision to Action. For additional resources on Vision Zero, visit NYC Vision Zero and Transportation Alternatives.

“Crash, not accident” language in traffic reporting

Like it or not, the media has a strong hold on public perceptions about almost everything. You might agree or disagree with what’s being reported at any particular time, but reporting language influences your perceptions about the world, whether you’re conscious of it or not.

That’s why NYBC continues to educate the news media and the public about “Crash, not accident” reporting of traffic incidents.

The media’s pervasive use of the word “accident” has desensitized the public to the reality of drivers running their cars into things – including pedestrians and people on bikes. Instead of employing defensive driving principles, some drivers feel red lights and speed limits are suggestions, that slowing in school zones is inconvenient, or that the roads are paid for exclusively by motorists so only motor vehicles should be on the road. (Spoiler: they aren’t!)

A “crash” is when a vehicle, driven by a person, collides violently with an obstacle or another vehicle. It doesn’t absolve anyone of fault; it evaluates the details of what happened. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 94% of all crashes are the result of human error. This would include the intersection design, lane markings, as well as every participant’s placement and actions. Blame is assigned based on the facts. Consequences are handed out. Being a licensed driver is a privilege, not a right because any driver has the potential to injure or kill.

NYBC is calling upon the media to use “crashes”, not “accidents” when reporting on traffic incidents involving bicyclists or pedestrians. The AP Stylebook recommends the use of crash language when negligence is claimed or proven.