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Road Safety as a Shared Responsibility for Improving Pedestrian Safety in Europe: Lessons from France and Sweden
1  University of Washington

Abstract: For more than a decade, efforts to improve mobility and road infrastructure have been central to the transportation policy in the United States. However, less attention has been devoted to improve and/or preserve the spaces for pedestrians. Also, the policies have created spatial disparities between road users: pedestrians are more exposed to unsafe road environments than drivers. Increase in walking has a positive effect not only on physical and mental health, but also on environmental health: help reducing fuel consumption and air pollution. Therefore, there is a need for improving pedestrian safety.In a global context, there has been an effort to develop understandings of how to moderate pre-crash behaviors by road safety policy, rather than superimposing engineering and design solutions to address collisions where they have already occurred. Pedestrian safety is also a primary concern in the United States. From 2001 to 2010, the pedestrian death rate was reduced by 12.6 percent, while total road deaths were reduced by 22 percent (NHTA 2012). Compared to the death reduction rate of the EU nations during the same period (39 percent), the U.S. figures still lag behind. This shows a potential to reduce pedestrian collisions by applying the lessons of effective cases. This study reviews the cases of France and Sweden, and examines the backgrounds, and policy implementation processes. The study found that public officials shared or held main responsibility for road safety and undertake rigorous interventions to improve safety awareness in both cases: in France, The primary responsibility for road crashes was on "everyone", including road users, policy-makers, road designers, and other groups (Gerondeau 2006). This principle of responsibility helped alter individuals' attitudes toward road safety. On the other hand, in Sweden, road experts have all causal responsibility for injuries on the roads (Belin et al. 2012). The research findings suggest that the responsibility allocation strategies in France and Sweden can potentially be modified and implemented in the United States.
Keywords: Pedestrian safety, road safety, France, Sweden, Vision Zero, transportation policy, shared responsibility