Vision Zero a ‘counter-productive road safety fantasy’ – ABD

10.59 | 22 January 2019 | | 13 comments

Authorities launched London’s ‘Vision Zero’ action plan in July 2018

The Vision Zero concept has been slammed by the Alliance of British Drivers (ABD), who says it is ‘obvious that zero road casualties is an impossibility’.

First introduced in Sweden in 1997, Vision Zero is based on the premise that ‘no loss of life is acceptable’.

Vision Zero has been adopted in London, with the mayor of London, TfL and the Met Police aiming to eliminate all road deaths and serious injuries by 2041.

In a strongly worded press release, the ABD – which describes itself as a ‘voluntary organisation promoting the interests and concerns of Britain’s drivers’ – says Vision Zero is ‘simply an attempt to further reduce speed limits to levels that are economically and socially ruinous’.

Adding that ‘nothing good ever comes from policies based on unrealistic targets’, the ABD says that even if vehicles could be prevented from colliding, or could collide without causing injury, cyclists will ‘still injure or kill themselves by falling off their bikes’.

The press release continues in a similar vein, saying ‘nothing seems to have been learned from the failure of 20mph limits to reduce casualties’ or the ‘continued flat-lining of casualty reduction due to the speed camera one-trick road safety pony’.

With regard to ‘safe road use’ within the safe system approach, the ABD says all road users have a responsibility to ensure that their actions do not put themselves or others at risk.  

It adds that while cooperation and courtesy between road users should be encouraged, transport policies adopted by many local authorities in recent years have ‘alienated road users from one another’.

The campaign group also calls for the contribution drivers make to the economy to be recognised – and for road safety education, including that of future drivers, to be ‘compulsory in all schools’.

In conclusion, the ABD recommends that transport policies should be reviewed, especially where ‘road space has been reallocated disproportionately to non-motorised road users for ideological reasons’.



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    I’m confused, Rob. Are you saying that (a) driving slower doesn’t reduce the number or severity of injuries, or (b) speed limits don’t reduce speeds. If the former, I refer you to physics. If the latter, then the most compelling study that I have seen is the BRITE report on the Bristol 20mph and the subsequent report by Bornioli, Pilkington, et al entitled “The effectiveness of a 20 mph speed limit intervention on vehicle speeds in Bristol, UK: A non-randomised stepped wedge design“. Worth a read…

    Adrian Berendt, 20’s Plenty for Us, Tunbridge Wells
    Agree (3) | Disagree (5)


    You say ” In fact if one takes out the Police involvement in that area at the time one will realise that some 90% plus of all reductions mentioned were as a direct result of police involvement mainly on higher speed restricted roads. ”

    What is your evidence for this 90% plus figure?



    Rod King, Warrington
    Agree (7) | Disagree (6)

    ‘Operation Hawmill included some enforcement by police officers’

    Yes it certainly did. Rod. Being a retired police officer I have been in communication with police officers who were and are still are involved in this operation designed to reduce collision and casualties in the calderdale area. They put in as much manpower as the West Yorkshire Police could and well over a thousand man hours went on patrolling the main and minor roads in that area. A few of which were indeed 20 mph areas.

    When one actually looks at the casualty stats presented on the paper you mentioned we find that by far the vast majority of casualties were drivers and passengers in vehicles and a few pedestrians. In fact if one takes out the Police involvement in that area at the time one will realise that some 90% plus of all reductions mentioned were as a direct result of police involvement mainly on higher speed restricted roads. The remaining small % would be due to the 20 is plenty scheme and even less if there had been no Police presence and involvement in the 20 moh areas by those officers. Merely the putting up of 20 mph speed limits signs would not have given any more than about 5% of those casualty results obtained.

    Over half of the pages of the report you referred to was propaganda by whatever authority or body in support of again a dubious and questionable result.

    Agree (8) | Disagree (5)

    The only acceptable accident & injury figure is Zero..

    So said Shell Expro to its staff & contractors in the offshore industry 30 years ago! Great vision, fantastic PR, phenomenal sound bite! End result? No real reduction in casualty figures, and in reality management & individuals actively hid or failed to report ‘incidents’. The inescapable fact is that where humans are operating any mechanical device motorised or otherwise there will be ‘accidents’ some minor, some major, & unfortunately some fatal.

    Anyone that raises risk assessments will tell you that removing the main cause of risks would be the removal of the human element reduces the risk exponentially!!

    That is of course totally unfeasible, so how does one reduce accidents & fatalities on our roads?

    That is a question that I’m sure keeps many a road safety practitioner awake of a night?
    What is crystal clear, is the the current path or mindset is a dead end! The ’s who continue to ‘implement’ this kind of meaningless propaganda do nothing, but keep their jobs safe!then again that might be the whole point….

    Sandy Allan, Aberdeen
    Agree (7) | Disagree (5)


    It was taken from a report to a Scrutiny Panel. The report was not presented by a “politician” or “town hall underling”, but submitted by the Director of Public Health.

    Operation Hawmill included some enforcement on 20mph roads.

    Regarding your PS, I didn’t say. It was a quote from the report.

    Best wishes


    Rod King, Warrington
    Agree (3) | Disagree (8)

    Rod. Just because a politician sprouted some fact from a piece of paper given to him by a town hall underling does not mean that the facts are correct or interpreted correctly. In this case I do quiry the authenticity of the facts as it’s not what I was informed of by the police who were running their own operation called ‘Hawmill’ on Calderdale’s roads at or about the same time as this so called reduction, due to the 20 is plenty scheme was also taking place.

    PS. You say;- ‘Indications suggest’ means that the figures are at best made up to represent some positive outcome…Once again politics at its best.

    Carry on Rod. I am sure you will not delete this so called success from your records. Add it to the other fudged and meaningless ones.

    Agree (11) | Disagree (3)

    I think there may be a typo in your report? Are the words “some of” missing from the sentence “the ABD – which describes itself as a ‘voluntary organisation promoting the interests and concerns of Britain’s drivers'”?

    Nick Hughes, Preston
    Agree (5) | Disagree (5)


    The Calderdale Place Scrutiny Committee report states:

    “• Indications suggest that the 20mph roll out has been effective in reducing casualties by 30%.”


    Perhaps you could provide a reference to your assertion.



    Rod King, Warrington
    Agree (4) | Disagree (7)

    Que Rod Que.

    There are many, many interim reports purporting to show that some reductions in casualties has occurred following the inception of the 20 is plenty scheme but no actual and undeniable truths. Figures have been arrived at through theory and speculation . There is and never has been an absolutely definitively reduction anywhere that can be attributed solely to the scheme..

    Where there has been an undeniable reductions in accidents is the one in Calderdale where the police set up their own initiative on main roads that were not 20 mph restricted. Due to their own diligence they have reduced the actual numbers of collisions by some 30% and that had nothing to do with the scheme. However I see that you took advantage of that circumstance and made it to look like it was as a direct result of the scheme when it was not.

    Perhaps you may wish to take Calderdale off of your list of successes.

    Agree (11) | Disagree (2)

    Oh dear.

    The ABD has not read the many reports showing that 20mph limits have reduced casualties in Bristol, in Portsmouth, in Bath, in Warrington, in Brighton, in Calderdale. It refuses to accept the evidence from WHO, from OECD, from iRAP and from the Global Network of Road Safety Legislators.

    The idea of using 85%ile, or rather the speed of the fastest 16% of vehicles, is no basis to set an appropriate speed limit which is why it was abandoned in 2006.

    I guess whilst some of us may well have a Vision Zero aspiration, the ABD simply have “zero vision”.

    Rod King, Warrington
    Agree (7) | Disagree (10)

    note for the uninitiated: re-their ‘strongly worded press release’, the third para thereof (the 85th%ile bit), is wholly incorrect and as an assertion, should be ignored.

    To reassess/reset ALL speed limits to the ABD’s satisfaction, apart from being logistically impossible, is equally a ‘road safety fantasy’ – to borrow their phrase. (Why do they have to bring speed limits into everything?)

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (6) | Disagree (8)

    ‘especially where road space has been reallocated disproportionately to non-motorised road users for ideological reasons’ I cannot take this bunch seriously, I’m afraid. Perhaps they could tell us how many lost lives on the road are acceptable?

    Jonathan Mason, Bristol
    Agree (14) | Disagree (11)

    ‘Vision Zero’ is a good sound bite, but in practice, impossible in terms of the authorities promoting and achieving it. On the other hand, as individuals, if we put our minds to it we can adopt vision zero for ourselves and avoid collisions.

    The ABD says “..all road users have a responsibility to ensure that their actions do not put themselves or others at risk”. Yes – quite right obviously, but as lobbyists seemingly opposed to enforcement, typically they stop short of suggesting ways of dealing with those who persistently don’t exercise this responsibility.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (8) | Disagree (3)

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