DURHAM: Durham Region has a bold new strategy for keeping residents safe on its roadways: Durham Vision Zero. The strategy was approved by Durham Regional Council in April, and officially launched today at a special event held at Durham Regional Headquarters in Whitby.
Vision Zero is a concept, originally introduced in Sweden, that many municipalities around the world have adopted. The foundation of Vision Zero is that zero people should lose their lives due to a collision, because everyone has the right to travel safely in their community. Vision Zero places responsibility on road designers, policy makers, police enforcement and other related systems to ensure safe systems for travel. With Vision Zero as a guiding principle, safety is prioritized over factors such as cost, speed, delay, level of service, and convenience, factors upon which decisions have traditionally been made.
“We need to change the way we think about collisions,” said John Henry, Regional Chair and Chief Executive Officer for Durham Region. “Whether through better road design, improved safety measures and safe, attentive driving—collisions can always be prevented. Durham Vision Zero aims to save lives and reduce injuries caused by motor vehicle collisions by co-ordinating engineering, enforcement, health and education. I’m proud to see so many partners in road safety collaborating to work towards this common goal.”
In Durham, an average of 6,700 reported collisions per year result in an average of $225 million in fiscal impact. This includes emergency response by police, fire and paramedics; as well as healthcare costs; and public works expenses for roadway repairs and improvements.
“Roadway collisions cost the Region of Durham a significant amount of money. But what’s more important than any expense is the dramatic effect that the loss of life, and life-altering injuries, has on families and our community,” said Don Mitchell, Chair of the Works Committee. “Through Durham Vision Zero, Regional Council has purposefully chosen to endorse preventing collisions from happening in the first place, instead of spending money responding to them. By investing in public education, new road safety technologies, increased law enforcement and more—the investment will pay off endlessly for our community, because the cost of saving a life is priceless.”
The development of Durham’s Vision Zero plan was led by the Region’s Works Department, in collaboration with road safety partners across Durham, including local area municipalities, school boards, private sector stakeholders, and Durham Regional Police.
“Members of the DRPS work hard every day to educate motorists and enforce the laws to keep our roadways safe,” said Paul Martin, Chief of Police, Durham Regional Police Service. “Despite the fact that there are more vehicles on the road every year, collisions have stayed relatively the same in Durham Region. As much as that feels like a success, much more can and should be done. By working closely with our community partners and implementing a broad strategy like Durham Vision Zero, we can make our streets even safer for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.”
With the plan officially launched, Durham Region is ready to get to work. The first step will be establishing a task force made up of partners from the Works Department, Durham Regional Police Service, a Works Committee Representative (Town of Ajax Councillor Marilyn Crawford), as well as stakeholders and the community.
Learn more about Durham Vision Zero at durham.ca/VisionZero and join the conversation about road safety on social media by using the hashtag #DurhamVisionZero.
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