Monday, March 3, 2014

World's Safest Roads

The world's safest roads belong to Sweden.

According to The Economist, 264 people died in road crashes in Sweden last year, a record low. "Although the number of cars in circulation and the number of miles driven have both doubled since 1970, the number of road deaths has fallen by four-fifths during the same period. With only three of every 100,000 Swedes dying on the roads each year, compared with 5.5 per 100,000 across the European Union, 11.4 in America and 40 in the Dominican Republic, which has the world's deadliest traffic, Sweden’s roads have become the world’s safest."

Photo Credit: Swedish Road Administration
Kansas also experienced a record low in fatalities with 349 in 2013-- down from 405 in 2012.  It's a notable achievement.  However, that is still significantly higher than Sweden, which has three times the population of Kansas. There were 12.4 deaths per 100,000 people versus Sweden's three per 100,000.

How has Sweden done it?  In 1997, the Swedish parliament passed a law known as Vision Zero that said "eventually no one will be killed or seriously injured within the road transport system."  While they still a long ways from zero fatalities, they have made substantial progress.  There are many facets to Vision Zero, but here are three that have played a critical role in its success.

"2+1" Roads
They have built more than 900 miles of 2+1 roads, which is a three-lane road, consisting of two lanes in one direction and one lane in the other, alternating every few miles, and separated by a cable barrier. Click here to see a video of how these lanes work.

Lower Speed Limits
The speed limit for urban areas is 31 mph. On open country roads, it is 55 mph and on highways 68 mph. 

Stricter Drunk Driving Laws
In Sweden, a blood alcohol limit is 0.2%, which is substantially lower than the U.S.'s 0.8% limit.  The punishment for first time offenders includes up to six months in prison, a suspended driver's license between three and 12 months and a fine based on the offender's income level.

New York City is currently looking for ways to copy Sweden's success.  Do you think other places, like Kansas, should consider trying to replicate this as well?

1 comment:

  1. No. More legislation means less freedom. There are risks to everything that we do as well as costs. I, for one, would prefer less legislation than we have instead of more.