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Vision Zero Press Event Photo

How PRR is Helping Seattle Accomplish Vision Zero – Part 1

May 31, 2017

What is Vision Zero and Why Does Seattle Need It?

Each year, more than 30,000 people (80+ people every day) in the U.S. die from something that is preventable. More than 2 million more people are injured annually. What is behind these deaths and injuries? Traffic crashes. Motor vehicle crashes are often in the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. Globally, more than 1.25 million people die each year, with nearly half of deaths involving people walking, biking, or riding a motorcycle, due to the sheer physics of a crash involving someone operating a moving vehicle and an unprotected person.

Vision Zero display adSeattle is consistently recognized as one of the safest cities in the country. Over the past decade, it’s seen a 30 percent decline in traffic fatalities, even as the population grows dramatically. Despite this fact, traffic collisions are a leading cause of death for Seattle residents ages 5-24. In 2013, there were 10,310 police-reported collisions in Seattle, in which 155 people were seriously injured and 23 were killed. Current Vision Zero collision data for Seattle can be found on the new Vision Zero dashboard. At the core of the worldwide Vision Zero movement is the belief that death and injury on city streets is preventable. For the most part, these aren’t “accidents.” Collisions are often the result of poor behaviors and unforgiving roadway designs. We must approach the problem from multiple angles – engineering street designs that emphasize safety, predictability, and the potential for human error, coupled with targeted consumer education and data-driven enforcement.

As of April 2016, 17 U.S. cities, large and small, have committed to Vision Zero, with many more exploring it, according to the newly formed Vision Zero Network. Seattle has been on the leading edge, formally launching its plan in February 2015. As an early adopter, Seattle is one of 10 Vision Zero Network Focus Cities, alongside New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

How is PRR Helping?

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) retained PRR for the third “E” of Vision Zero – education – with a goal of increasing awareness about Seattle’s Vision Zero safety message through public relations, strategic partnerships, and paid advertising. Our strategy was to match the focus of our consumer education to what the collision data shows cause the highest number of crashes—impairment (e.g., drunk or drugged driving, with a focus on holidays with the most alcohol-related collisions), distracted driving, and speeding—plus educating residents that Seattle Police Department is actively enforcing these road safety laws. PRR helped SDOT launch the City of Seattle’s Vision Zero initiative in February 2015. From February 2015 to present-day 2017, we continue to develop marketing communications activities to raise awareness and provide education around campaign priorities. PRR’s efforts are based off of research data and priority areas included in the City of Seattle’s Vison Zero Plan.


SDOT Director Scott Kubly speaking to the press

SDOT Director Scott Kubly speaking to the press


We developed several campaigns to reach people who drive with a focus on who’s behind the wheel of the most crashes caused by: Impairment: Men, ages 16-34; Distraction: Men and women, ages 18-60; Speeding: Men, ages 16-34. We also reach people who walk and bike, and are thus most vulnerable to death or injury in a crash with a vehicle.

Vision Zero Seattle Launch Press Event and Branding: PRR worked with SDOT to launch its Vision Zero campaign– the city’s plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030 through improved engineering, enforcement, and education. Starting out, we developed a new brand and logo to present a high-impact, consistent face of Vision Zero. For the launch, we staged a high-profile media event with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and other city officials, moderated by the weekday traffic anchor/reporter from Seattle’s ABC affiliate.

Come back next week to learn specifics about our Vision Zero work in How PRR is Helping Seattle Accomplish Vision Zero – Part 2.