The Vision Zero concept

Making errors part of the equation

Our road systems are based on all the factors long known to pose hazards. They are allowing drivers to take risks way beyond our human capability. And our road systems have an unclear responsibility chain, at times, blaming victims for crashes and injuries.

Close-up of the front of a car, a hat on the panel

Photo: Heléne Grynfarb /

For example, on our road systems it is perfectly legal for a car to travel at the high speed of 100 km/h, a couple of metres behind the vehicle in front in wet weather. All this without knowing if the driver is fit or understands the risks.

Another example is how our bodies are subject to biomechanical tolerance limits and simply not designed to travel at high-speed. We have a very natural fear of heights but lack the ability to judge velocity. However, we still travel at high-speed.

We’re also naturally prone to be distracted and have our attention diverted by music, phone calls, smoking, passengers, insects, or events outside the car. On top of this, we just make silly mistakes. The human factor is always present – 365 days a year. An effective road safety system needs to take human fallibility into account.

By designing the entire transport system to cater for human fallibility, we will learn how to manage kinetic energy in traffic systems and change road and vehicle design – separately and in unison.