Vision Zero is a long-term goal. Management that focuses on the fulfilment of concrete milestones in the short term is the method used in Sweden for achieving final objectives. Annual follow-ups are conducted and the milestones are successively updated.
When Parliament in 1997 decided that Vision Zero should serve as the basis for traffic safety activities in Sweden, everyone was well-aware that it would not be possible to realise the vision immediately. On the other hand, there was a distinct awareness of the importance of having more immediate goals against which traffic safety efforts could be checked. Therefore, in 1998 Parliament adopted the milestone that the number of people killed in traffic on Swedish roads would be halved by the year 2007. This meant that the number of people killed in traffic would not exceed 270, or in other words half the number of people killed on the roads in 1996.
Eleven points for increased traffic safety
The milestone became even more concrete in 1999, when the Swedish Government took the initiative for an 11-point programme for increased traffic safety. These eleven points later served as guidelines for Swedish traffic safety activities. Included in the eleven points were investments in the most dangerous roads, safer traffic in urban areas, the quality assurance of transportation and requirements governing the use of winter tyres.
An extensive programme of work was initiated among the traffic safety players in Sweden on the basis of these eleven points. In 2004, the Government introduced the bill entitled "Continued efforts to establish safe road traffic", which was presented in an attempt to concretise work on the realisation of Vision Zero.
A new milestone
In 2006, the Government commissioned the Swedish National Road Administration to propose a new milestone for traffic safety development. In addition, the Road Administration was tasked with establishing the basic input for continued work in line with Vision Zero.
At the same time, independent assessments were made as to how the work had been carried out to date. In this context it was concluded, among other things, that:
the Government's control had been unclear and the follow-up defective, involvement on the part of Traffic Safety Sweden had been low, and the connection between the milestone and the Administration's own activities had been unclear.
In 2008, the work of the Swedish Road Administration resulted in the report entitled "The management of traffic safety work by objectives. Cooperation between players focusing on new milestones in 2020". In this, a proposal was made for a new system for the management of traffic safety work by objectives, which is based on three fundamental points:
cooperation when milestones are developed, action-related milestones, and annual result conferences in which traffic safety and goal fulfilment are evaluated.
The report served as the basic starting point for the Government bill entitled "Goals for future travel and transportation", which was adopted by Parliament and has since formed the basis for work on traffic safety in Sweden. The decision to adopt a new milestone for traffic safety on the Swedish roads was made by Parliament in 2009, and means that the number of people killed in traffic in the year 2020 must not be more than 220.
Result conferences each year
The first result conference was held in 2009, and since then conferences have been held every year. Before each conference, an analysis report is made for the traffic safety development during the previous year. The development is analysed in the first instance on the basis of some ten indicators, such as the observance of speed limits, sobriety and the use of cycle helmets.
The systematic work on establishing clearer sub-goals for the traffic safety work has produced the desired outcome in most areas, which is indicated by the analysis reports. The reports also show those areas in which additional efforts are needed.