The Canadian Vision Zero Landscape: A Parachute White Paper

Parachute is preparing a white paper, to be shared through the Parachute Vision Zero Network and presented at conferences, that will undertake an in-depth analysis of Vision Zero in Canada, examining where different regions of the country are on the continuum of concept to implementation and evaluation.

“We’ve heard from our stakeholders that they want to be certain they are doing Vision Zero ‘correctly’ and we also want to uncover what are both the facilitators and barriers to embracing a systems approach to increase road safety and end collision-caused fatalities,” says Pamela Fuselli, Parachute’s Interim President & CEO and a Vision Zero advocate.

The paper will create guidelines and a framework for communities to use to compare and measure themselves in Vision Zero adoption as well recommend tools and resources for communities to use that have been developed by our international and Canadian partners.

Communities at the early stages of considering adopting Vision Zero principles and practices will benefit greatly from the white paper’s framework on key focus areas, activities and required commitments for Vision Zero. The framework will be a good place to start when considering adopting the holistic and systems approach that Vision Zero brings to road safety improvements.

Early criteria include:

  • Is road safety an issue with the public in your community? In this instance, are people in your community concerned with road safety issues?

  • Do you have reliable road traffic safety data to support and advocate for safe system interventions?

  • Do you have a Vision Zero champion who can lead the coordination of a multi-disciplinary team that embraces community engagement?

  • Do you have political capacity and buy in from political representatives?

There is a pathway a community needs to navigate before change will be accepted and supported, Fuselli notes. The further along the pathway a community has already travelled, the closer they are to being able to adopt new strategies and programs. If a community has not gone through these early stages, it will be difficult, or take longer, to get support for change.

As well the white paper will discuss who should be at the Vision Zero table in each community and why: what each group brings to the discussion and to the initiative.

“For instance, we often hear, why is public health weighing in on road safety?” Fuselli says.

“While you think of road safety issues, you may not think of them as a health issues. Yet the bulk of the burden of collision is on the health-care system. We may think that means the emergency room and trauma care, but it also brings in public health as prevention is a key tenet of the public health approach, and Vision Zero is focused on prevention.” 

Public health initiatives prevent burdens on our health-care system by ensuring food safety, water quality, air quality, immunization; all these work at the preventative and population level, what medical practitioners call “upstream interventions”. The effective “upstream intervention” for injuries and deaths caused by motor-vehicle collisions is Vision Zero, which means public health experts have much wisdom and experience to bring to the road-safety table.

The paper will be published later in 2019 and shared with our network via a future edition of Word on the Street.