Road traffic crashes continue to represent the primary leading cause of death among those aged 5 to 29 years old and disproportionately affect vulnerable road users; More than half of all road traffic deaths are among pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists (World Health Organization, Global Status Report on Road Safety, 2018).
In response, the Vision Zero program has gained momentum in cities across the globe as more cities commit to making a focused effort to eliminate road deaths. But Vision Zero cannot be achieved without proactive safety methods. A reactive method that is based on crash data will never support reaching zero serious injuries and fatalities because interventions only happen after problems have already arisen.
A proactive approach focuses on what is known about the specific safety implications of highway design and operations decisions and applies this knowledge to the design process to diminish the potential of crashes occurring prior to the road being built. Some ways to incorporate a proactive approach include:
- Conducting road safety audits and inspections
- Checking that the proposed infrastructure is designed and built to minimize the occurrence of road safety problems
- Using surrogate safety methods such as near-miss data and vehicle speeds instead of crashes to assess road safety
Today, surrogate safety methods can be used to perform a proactive safety analysis. Video based analysis is one of the most practical approaches to performing surrogate safety analysis and offers many advantages compared to traditional road safety analysis methods, including the ability to analyze vulnerable road user safety, its quantitative results, and its applicability for use in road safety audits and inspections.
In conclusion, due to its lack of dependence on crash data and crash occurrences to improve road safety, a proactive approach to road safety should be considered as the only means to achieve zero fatalities and serious injuries.