In 1997 the Swedish government committed to a new approach to road safety that focused on design as the central strategy for reducing road deaths and serious injuries to zero. Vision Zero recognizes that humans make mistakes, including on the roads, but rejects the idea that deaths resulting from such mistakes are inherent in modern transport. Vision Zero places primary responsibility for road safety on the people who design and maintain roads, and not on road users. In the 20 years since Vision Zero has been in place, road deaths in Sweden have declined to one of the lowest rates in the world. The transportation system in Sweden looks very different today relative to 1997. Barriers divide opposing traffic on highways making head-on collisions impossible; traffic circles have replaced intersections eliminating dangerous crashes that occur when cars turn left and cross lanes of traffic traveling in the opposite direction; and dedicated space for cyclists and pedestrians is both clearly designated and protected. Many countries (including those in Africa, Asia, and Europe) and states and cities in the United States have adopted Vision Zero initiatives and adapted the approach to account for local culture and context.
With this workshop, we will provide an overview of the Vision Zero efforts underway globally and engage with participants to identify ways in which these principals and practices can be adapted for tribal communities. We will encourage participants to think about the infrastructure in their communities and how design changes to that infrastructure that emphasize safety can yield a transportation infrastructure that prioritizes human health. We will conclude the workshop by strategizing ways to bring this approach into tribal road safety discussions and facilitate change.