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Vision Zero Sees Success in Other Countries, Despite Problems in Portland

Pedestrian accidents are a common problem in Portland and in cities around the world. In an effort to address the issue and stop the upward trend of traffic violence, the Vision Zero plan was created. It includes a strategy that addresses underlying causes contributing to traffic fatalities and has experienced extraordinary success overseas. Unfortunately, Portland itself has seen few results. In fact, the number of traffic accidents, including those involving pedestrians, has actually increased over the past year.  

How Vision Zero Helps Prevent Pedestrian Accidents

First initiated in Sweden in the 1990s, the goal of Vision Zero is to eliminate traffic fatalities by taking a fresh look at how they occur and a new approach in preventing them. Traditionally, pedestrian accidents and other types of collisions were considered a natural result of the increased amount of traffic. Prevention focused on personal responsibility and penalizing dangerous driving behaviors, such as speeding, distracted driving, and driving under the influence.  

Vision Zero takes a different approach by addressing underlying factors that are often involved. 

Alongside individual responsibility, the program looks at local infrastructure and policies. Recommended strategies include: 

  • Collecting data and analyzing trends to determine ‘hot spots’ for accidents in major cities;
  • Addressing infrastructure issues, such as a lack of street lights or crosswalks, that increase the risks for road users;
  • Designing roadways in a way that discourages speeding and other reckless behaviors;
  • Enlisting the help of law enforcement and members of the local community to raise awareness of the problem and how traffic accidents can be prevented. 

Cities participating in Vision Zero set goals for eliminating traffic deaths completely by a certain date, generally within a period of ten years. A January 3, 2020 article by Curbed states that the city of Oslo, which is similar in population to Portland, reached this goal ahead of schedule. It initiated the program in 2002 and reports zero pedestrian or cycling fatalities for 2019.   

Vision Zero In Portland

As Portland’s Vision Zero program was initiated in 2015, it seems reasonable to expect only modest improvements at this point. Unfortunately, the opposite occurred. The total number of pedestrian deaths and motor vehicle accident fatalities actually increased, claiming close to 50 lives in 2019. Many of these incidents occurred in areas of the city that were currently undergoing safety projects or targeted for improvements.  

Among the key strategies that worked for Oslo was reducing the overall amount of traffic in the city and providing more pedestrian-only walkways. In Portland, residents can help to protect themselves by doing the following: 

  • Monitor Portland’s Vision Zero progress;
  • Be alert for targeted areas, where pedestrians accidents are more likely to happen;
  • Be aware of dangerous driving behaviors which could put you at risk;
  • Stick to sidewalks and cross only at designated intersections. 

Let Us Help You Today

At the Johnston Law Firm, P.C., we help pedestrian accident victims and their families get the compensation they are entitled to in a claim. To schedule a consultation about your case, call (503) 546-3167 or contact our Portland pedestrian accident attorneys online today. 


Marc Johnston

Lead Attorney at Johnston Law Firm, P.C.

Based in downtown Portland, Marc A. Johnston is the owner and managing attorney of the award-winning, internationally-known personal injury law firm, Johnston Law Firm, P.C. Marc's career has been dedicated to representing the injured and individuals who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. His focus on trial law creates the backbone of the Johnston Law Firm — a firm that is ready to go the distance in seeking justice for its clients.