Completed 2021 Research Project

US Regional Vision Zero Implementation

Principal Investigator
Kelly Evenson 
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 
View Bio

Seth LaJeunesse
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
View Bio

Rebecca B. Naumann
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
View Bio

Full Report

Project Slide Deck

Research Brief


Vision Zero aims to reduce fatalities and serious injuries from road traffic crashes to zero through a Safe Systems approach. Little is known about the extent of uptake of Vision Zero in the United States, or the attributes and functioning of the initiatives. Using a mixed-methods design, our objectives were to describe the status of Vision Zero and characteristics of those initiatives among U.S. municipalities and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs). Websites of all 408 U.S. MPOs and 788 municipalities with a population of at least 50,000 were searched to identify involvement in Vision Zero. When initiatives were identified, we abstracted information from their website and other published documents, using a comprehensive framework of best practice Vision Zero components. From the Vision Zero initiatives identified, we interviewed representatives from 12 municipalities and 10 MPOs with diversity by region of the country, population size, and implementation stage. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and coded for themes. Through systematic web-based searching, we identified 86 of 788 (11%) municipalities and 16 of 408 (4%) MPOs with a Vision Zero initiative. Vision Zero initiatives began as early as 2014. Among the municipal Vision Zero initiatives, about two-thirds record a vision statement and a little over half set a target year to reach zero deaths. Almost half of the municipal initiatives had published a Vision Zero plan, with another one-quarter working towards a plan. Almost one-third of the municipal initiatives shared resources across interested groups, such as funding or staff. Approximately half of the municipal initiatives had an established coalition, and one-fifth had proposed or were developing a coalition. While one-third of the municipal initiatives provided regular updates or evaluation on progress towards performance metrics, only four initiatives had implemented a performance management system to regularly track progress on Vision Zero-related actions. The interviews provided further context and a more detailed understanding of results. Documenting the characteristics of Vision Zero initiatives can contribute to an understanding of current practice, potential opportunities to support ongoing initiatives, and information to assist new initiatives. Ultimately, the impact of municipal- and MPO-level Vision Zero efforts should be evaluated with regards to traffic-related serious injuries and fatalities.


Evenson, K. R., LaJeunesse, S., Keefe, E., & Naumann, R.B. (2023). Mixed-methods approach to describing Vision Zero in United States’ municipalities. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 184, 1-13. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2023.107012

Project Details

Project Type: Research
Project Status: Completed
Start Date: 6/01/2021
End Date: 5/31/2023
Contract Year: Year 5
Total Funding from CSCRS: $97,463