The British Columbia Vision Zero in Road Safety Grant Program was established in 2021 from the joint partnership of the British Columbia Injury Research and Prevention Unit, the Government of British Columbia, the First Nations Health Authority and the five local health authorities. It is built upon the successful programs previously administered by Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health.
Our goal is to support local communities across British Columbia to achieve Vision Zero and make travelling around one’s community safe and equitable.
What is Vision Zero and the Safe Systems Approach?
Vision Zero is an internationally-recognized traffic safety approach to eliminating serious injuries and deaths on the roads.
A Vision Zero approach recognizes that people make mistakes and sometimes these mistakes can result in road crashes and injury. However, if the government, health professionals, road designers, and road users work together to implement proper safety measures, then the severity of these crashes can be minimized and we can prevent serious injuries and death in our communities.
To make a meaningful change, Vision Zero must be aligned with the Safe Systems Approach. This strategy prioritizes evidence-based solutions to encourage safe drivers, safe speeds, safe roads, and safe vehicles1. These pieces work in together to ensure that everyone, including pedestrians, cyclists, motor vehicle occupants, can enjoy spending time outdoors and travelling safely to their destinations.
Vision Zero is achievable and effective. Sweden and the Netherlands were the first to adopt this approach and have seen up to 66% fewer road fatalities compared to the 1990s2. Seeing their success, other European countries and North American cities have embraced this novel concept3. British Columbia is one of the latest provinces to join in on this movement.
Comparison of traditional versus Vision Zero road safety approaches
|Traditional Road Safety Approach||Vision Zero Approach|
|Prevent road accidents.||Eliminate serious injuries and road fatalities.|
|Injuries and deaths caused by road-related crashes are unavoidable by-products of the transportation system.||Serious injuries and deaths caused by road-related crashes can be prevented when evidence-based safety measures are in place.|
|Human error is the root cause of the road problems.||Poor road design and infrastructure causes problems.|
|Each road user is responsible for their own safety.||Road safety is a shared responsibility of those who design, build, and use the roads.|
|Making road safety improvements is expensive.||Making road safety improvements is cost-effective.|
Adapted from Table 2. Comparison of traditional, systematic, and vision zero approaches on road safety based on a scoping review4.
Road Safety in British Columbia
Did you know that road safety is one of three injury prevention priorities in British Columbia (BC)?
Each year, motor vehicle crashes cause:
- Injury to over 79,000 British Columbians5;
- Result in over 2,500 people being hospitalized6;
- Kill around 250 people7; and
- Cost the province $639 million in direct and indirect healthcare expenses8.
Motor vehicle crashes also disproportionately affect the Indigenous populations more than non-Indigenous groups in BC. Many Indigenous people live in rural and remote locations that require long drives on poor road conditions. Vehicular crashes are one of the leading causes of injury and death in these communities. In addition, these groups often face barriers when accessing proper driver training and licensing services making travelling options even more limited9. Every British Columbian deserves safe and equitable mobility regardless if they travel in a vehicle, on foot, on a bicycle, or other transportation methods.
Vulnerable Road User Safety
Vulnerable road users (VRUs) are everyday people who use the roads but are travelling outside of a motor vehicle. They often share the road with large motor vehicles but do not have the same protections like vehicular occupants (e.g., seatbelts, airbags, windshields). This puts VRUs at a higher risk of serious injury, disability, or death during a road-related crash. In the past two decades, there has not been a significant reduction in pedestrian and cyclist deaths in BC6.
The safety of VRUs need to be prioritized. BC is expected to welcome more people to the province in the coming years. This means more British Columbians will be on the road, walking, cycling, or using other types of transportations when travelling in their communities. To reduce traffic and combat the climate emergency, the Province of BC has a goal to double the number of active transportation users by 203010. Actions need to be taken now to ensure that these groups have fair and safe access to BC roadways.
Vulnerable road users walk, cycle, and roll to their destinations. These are people who use the roads but are not protected by a motor vehicle: pedestrians; cyclists; people who use e-scooters, e-bikes, e-skateboards, wheelchairs, roadside workers; horse-riders, etc.
British Columbia Vision Zero in Road Safety Grant Program
Stream #1 is mainly for the design and installation of low-cost road infrastructure that improves the safety of vulnerable road users. It may also include other novel projects, such as road policy changes or other proven or innovative initiatives.
Stream #2 is for Indigenous communities and governments to set and direct their own road safety priorities. This may include infrastructure improvements like in Stream #1, but can also extend to other goals, such as road safety planning, community consultations, stakeholder engagement, public awareness, a bike-share program, and etc.
The funds provided by the British Columbia Vision Zero in Road Safety Grant Program are a step towards safer and equitable road access in the province. When the transportation system is made safer for vulnerable road users, it is made safer for everyone in the community.To learn more about Vision Zero initiatives both in British Columbia and beyond, visit our Resources page
Our Program in Action
Since our Grant Program's Inception
- 5 Health Authorities
- 36 Indigenous Road Safety Projects Funded
- >$1,500,000 In Funds Awarded
In 2022, a process evaluation was conducted to gather feedback on the inaugural year grant program. The focus was on the applicant’s experience applying for funding. Other participants included members of the Vision Zero Working Group, which is comprised of health authority leads, Ministry of Health staff, and members of the British Columbia Injury Research and Prevention Unit. The objective was to identify best practices and areas of improvement for the program moving forward. We are sincerely grateful to all who shared their time and provided their input for this work.
Findings from this process evaluation are documented in the Process Evaluation 2021 - 2022 Report.
- 1. Zero Deaths - Saving Lives through a Safety Culture and a Safe System. (2022). U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration. Available at: https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/zerodeaths/zero_deaths_vision.cfm
- 2. Road Safety Annual Report 2020. (2020). International Transport Forum. Available at https://www.itf-oecd.org/road-safety-annual-report-2020
- 3. Vision Zero: no fatalities or serious injuries through road accidents. (2019). Road Safety Sweden. Available at: https://www.roadsafetysweden.com/about-the-conference/vision-zero---no-fatalities-or-serious-injuries-through-road-accidents/
- 4. Safarpour, H., Khorasani-Zavareh, D., &s; Mohammadic, r. (2020). The common road safety approaches: A scoping review and thematic analysis. Chinese Journal of Traumatology, 23(2), 113-121.
- 5. Motor Vehicle Related Crashes, Injuries and Fatalities: 10-year Statistics for British Columbia, 2011-2020. (2021). RoadSafetyBC. Available from: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/driving-and-cycling/roadsafetybc/data
- 6. Vulnerable road user deaths from 2002 - 2020. Business Information Warehouse - Traffic Accident System, Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. Data as of June 30th, 2021. Retrieved from Injury Data Online Tool (iDOT), BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit, 2021.
- 7. Motor Vehicle Traffic Injury Hospitalizations 2002-2019. Discharge Abstract Database (DAD), Ministry of Health, BCIRPU Injury Data Online Tool, 2021.
- 8. The Cost of Injury in Canada. (2015). Parachute Canada. Available from: https://parachute.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Cost_of_Injury-2015.pdf
- 9. BC Road Safety Strategy 2025: A Collaborative Framework for Road Safety. RoadSafetyBC, Government of British Columbia. Available from: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/driving-and-transportation/driving/roadsafetybc/strategy/bcrss_2025_final.pdf
- 10. Move. Commute. Connect. Active Transportation Strategy. (2019). CleanBC. Available from: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/transportation-environment/active-transportation
- Photos courtesy of the Government of BC Flickr account; iStockPhoto; Shutterstock; UnSplash; and the communities who have received Vision Zero funding.