Vision Zero Toolkit 

Each year, more than 40,000 people are needlessly killed on American streets and thousands more are seriously injured. While often referred to as “accidents,” the reality is that traffic deaths from crashes are preventable. Vision Zero views traffic deaths as an urgent public health issue with the goal of using a variety of strategies to eliminate all serious injuries and deaths from crashes, not necessarily eliminate all crashes. This approach acknowledges that even the best drivers make mistakes so roads, vehicles, and health care responses must be designed to keep everyone on the road safer.

While the IMPO is a regional planning organization, this Toolkit is meant to offer planning, policy, and road design resources to support local cities, towns, and counties in implementing Vision Zero at the local level. The Toolkit acknowledges that traffic deaths are a policy choice and that Vision Zero must address the underlying conditions that make speeding attractive and make traffic crash deaths possible. The Toolkit also acknowledges that transportation systems can be engineered to reduce risks, safely respond to changing traffic demands, safely forgive inevitable driver mistakes, and self-explain/self-enforce speed limits.

The Toolkit builds upon successful already proven safety projects in the region from right-sizing roads to suburban roundabouts and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). The Toolkit also builds upon the IMPO's existing funding and planning programs which work to implement infrastructure-based safety solutions across the region.

Vision Zero Toolkit 

The Indianapolis MPO developed this Vision Zero Toolkit to inform Central Indiana residents about Vision Zero and provide realistic strategies for action for all modes of transportation (vehicle drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, mobility device users, etc.). While fully eliminating traffic crash deaths and injuries will require action from local policymakers, federal lawmakers, vehicle companies, and healthcare facilities, this toolkit is focused on plans, policies, and strategies that can actually be implemented on the local level. 

What's In the Toolkit

  • Data Collection and Benchmarks: Organizing, collecting, and evaluating data to inform solutions and ongoing effectiveness is a key component of Vision Zero results. This section includes best practices for collecting and accessing data, interpreting, and effectively using that data.
  • Planning and Policy Strategies: To be effective, leadership must adopt and execute concrete policy changes. This section focuses on the legislative, educational, policy, and enforcement strategies a community can deploy as part of their commitment to Vision Zero.
  • Design Strategies: Roadway design is a critical piece of Vision Zero, and builds long-term solutions for all users. This section identifies several design-based solutions for communities of all sizes and needs.
  • Resources: Case studies and external sources for more specific information on Vision Zero action plans from across the country are included in this section.
  • Communications: Committing to Vision Zero is worth celebrating and sharing widely. It will also require communication within the impacted communities and with decision makers, leadership, and interested parties. This section shares tools, templates, techniques, message creation, and branding materials needed to help educate decision makers and the broader public.

Toolkit Resources

In addition to the Toolkit itself, the IMPO has compiled resources for local agencies to understand and implement Vision Zero. These resources include logo and design resources, photos and infographics, communication strategies, and fact sheets. These resources and the full toolkit document will be available for download via our Google Drive. Looking for additional resources, data, or planning tools? Contact us at 

Crashes Not "Accidents"

Even subtle editorial choices surrounding traffic crash reporting have major impacts on a reader’s understanding of the crash including if the reader sympathizes with the victim or blames them and what solutions the reader wants to see. The risk of a deadly crash is largely determined by speed and speed is largely determined by road design. If we accept the premise of Vision Zero, we cannot accept the status quo that refers to deadly traffic crashes as isolated “accidents” because road design is a policy choice and crash deaths are systemic. By acknowledging the preventable nature of traffic crashes, communications professionals can frame the crisis as solvable and encourage solutions.


Crash Coverage for Vulnerable People

The research paper Does news coverage of traffic crashes affect perceived blame and preferred solutions? from Texas A&M University offers an analysis of the effects of news coverage and best practices. The study showed that communications professionals can significantly reduce victim blaming of traffic crash victims through careful framing and sentence structure. The study also showed that thematic framing with a focus on the ongoing crisis (i.e. by mentioning the number of people who have died in traffic accidents) significantly increased support for infrastructure improvements that would reduce crashes.

Status Quo Better Practice Effect of status quo
Accident: “Pedestrian killed in accident on Main Street. Crash: “Pedestrian killed in crash on Main Street. Obscures preventable nature of crashes
Non-agentive: “A pedestrian was hit and killed.” (no agent) Agentive: “A pedestrian was hit and killed by a car. Obscures role of a human actor
Focus on pedestrian: “A pedestrian was hit and killed by a car. Focus on vehicle: “A car hit and killed a pedestrian. Increases blame for the focus of the sentence
Object-based language: “A car jumped the curb. Person-based language: “A driver drove over the curb. Obscures role of a human actor
Counterfactual statements: “The pedestrian darted into the street. Not included Increases perceived blame for the victim
Episodic framing: Treats the crash as an isolated incident. Thematic framing: “This is the tenth fatal collision this year. Prevents readers from connecting the dots between incidents and thus shifts attention to individual rather than systematic solutions

Source: Goddard, Tara, et al. “Does news coverage of traffic crashes affect perceived blame and preferred solutions? evidence from an experiment.” Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives, vol. 3, 2019, p. 100073,

Other IMPO Safety Initiatives

The IMPO strives to support safety across its core programs and works to create a regional transportation system designed to safely and comfortably accommodate all users, of all ages and abilities. To learn more about the IMPO's infrastructure funding programs, local technical assistance planning programs, crash dashboard, Safe Streets for All plan, road safety audits, and other IMPO initiatives please start at our Safety and the IMPO landing page. 

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