Future Fleet Forum 2018: Vision zero, by Professor Claes Tingvall, AF Consulting

Published:  10 March, 2018

'Stop focusing on individual road users and start changing behaviour at a cultural level to improve road safety,' said Professor Claes Tingvall, former head of traffic safety at the Swedish Traffic Administration, who discussed the development of Vision Zero in Sweden in the 1990s.

Professor Tingvall explained that ‘going downstream’ – focusing enforcement on the road user who made the wrong decision in the critical moment – is a counterproductive way to approach road safety. 'The legal system won’t solve the problem, neither will training drivers, or teaching children the rules of the road.

‘We used to have around 200 child deaths in traffic a year. Since we stopped training them in traffic rules, we have two or three. What did we do? We went upstream.’

Vision Zero, he explained, is about systemic prevention. It means understanding that it is impossible to change people’s behaviour on a one-by-one basis, that people instinctively copy the behaviour of those around them in traffic, and that the only way to change behaviours is to identify where decisions are made in the community about how the system functions. ‘What we find is that there are a few people and organisations making decisions that impact all of us.’

Seat belt use, drink driving – these are examples of behaviour change on a cultural level.

Professor Tingvall stressed that there are two key things to consider when designing transport systems – that people will make mistakes, and therefore the system needs to be able to cope with these, and that it must also take account of the human tolerance for kinetic energy. ‘If we hit or are hit by something over that threshold, we will be hurt or killed.’

What does it mean to go upstream in practice? If a truck driver is breaking the speed limit, try to understand why this is happening. Is the driver time pressured? Who can change this? Talk to the CEO of the company and tell them they have a problem rather than punish the driver.

How does this relate to fleets? In many countries, the majority of new cars are bought by fleets for either public or private use. So to change the behaviour of car buyers, talk to fleets, not individuals. To illustrate this point, Professor Tingvall explained how the Swedish Government, which buys less than 1% of fleet vehicles in the country, influenced the take up of electronic stability control technology from 15% to 90% of all new car sales within 40 months.

‘We called all the car importers and told them that we would not be purchasing or renting any vehicles that did not have this technology. It would have been impossible to do this through regulation, but by sending the right message to importers, they changed very quickly. It’s not regulations that change things.’

He also cited Volvo’s target that no one will be killed or seriously injured in a Volvo of 2020 model or later. Already Volvo has improved the safety of its vehicles by 80-90% over 1995 models. ‘These differences in safety are mainly driven by demand from consumers and fleet managers.’

Related Articles

  • On the road to reducing carbon footprints 

    The first all-electric sweepers are hitting the UK’s streets as local authorities continue their drive to become carbon neutral. Bunce UK powered by Boschung was the first to deliver its Urban Sweeper to Nottingham. LAPV visited the Boschung facility in Payerne, Switzerland, to find out more. Ann-Marie Knegt reports

  • Multi-purpose cleaning machine 

    Aebi Schmidt has launched a new compact articulated sweeper for all-year-round use in a variety of applications, reports LAPV.

  • LAPV Autumn 2019 - take part! 

    What is coming up in LAPV Autumn 2019 and how can you contribute?

    Deadline: August 2, advertising deadline August 16

  • Future Fleet Forum – driving forward 

    Day two of Future Fleet Forum 2019 was characterised by a lively discussion on issues such as road safety, skills, and the maintenance challenges of emerging technologies as delegates engaged with speakers across a range of interactive workshops. Lotte Debell reports.

  • Johnston Sweepers – Ditch the diesel with alternative fuel options across the range 

    COMMERCIAL PROFILE: Johnston Sweepers has been manufacturing road sweepers in Surrey for over 80 years and is the largest manufacturer and exporter of outdoor sweeping equipment in Britain. In the UK we have 70% market share in a highly competitive industry, our highly complex products incorporating all the latest technology in performance, efficiency, cost of ownership and impact on the environment.

Sign Up

For the latest news and updates from LAPV.


LAPV (Local Authority Plant and Vehicles) is the only UK information source purely dedicated to local authority vehicles and affiliated plant equipment. Appearing four times a year, it offers well-researched technical articles on the latest equipment/technology as well as in-depth interviews with key industry professionals. More...



All content © Hemming Information Services 2019