Road safety in BSR – Vision Zero for sustainable changes
The conference “Vision Zero for Sustainable Road Safety in the Baltic Sea Region”, held in Vilnius on 5-6 December 2018, acknowledged the importance of road safety matter and provided examples, suggestions and the possible outcome of what we can expect, if changes will not take place soon. The conference was arranged by Lithuanian-Swedish Academy and Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (VGTU) together with partners.
The need to transform things as they were strongly evolved a few years ago. Initially, it inspired a project "Vision Zero in Lithuania", which stemmed from the EU resolution passed on March 16th 2016, with a mission to reduce the number of road deaths in the 28 EU member countries within upcoming years. Earlier this year, one of the conference's supporters Lithuanian Road Administration under the Ministry of Transport and Communications released concerning statistics. Report stated, almost 4000 thousand people were injured in traffic just in 2017. According to data, over 26,000 people die in traffic in Europe every year.
How can we change those frightening statistics, or better, how can we create solutions, that support society's need and right to feel and be safe? Is it possible to reduce road deaths to a minimum or at all? What it takes to drive more safely? What the future holds?
Discussion opened at the Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (VGTU) and continued for two days. Organizers invited authoritative speakers from seven countries. Altogether there were 41 presentations (8 presentations during the general sessions and 33 during the four concurrent sessions). Speakers included Matthew Baldwin, Deputy Director General of DG MOVE at the European Commission, Swedish Transport Administration Senior Advisor Matts-Åke Belin, Lithuanian Ministry of Transport and Communications Vice Minister Ričardas Degutis, Road Safety analyst at Swedish Transport Agency Tomas Fredlund, and other lecturers and participants from ministries, universities, research facilities, transport and road industries, insurance industry, etc. The conference was the biggest conference ever held in the Baltic States.
"Vision Zero" covered the most important topics from technical aspects and strategies, to human attitudes, intentions and behaviors. During the general session speakers discussed practical implementation of "Vision Zero" concept in different counties, EU strategies, National Strategic programs, "Vision Zero" with autonomous vehicles, Swedish Traffic Accident Data Acquisition, etc. In concurrent sessions topics were divided into four areas, each led by a moderator, they covered policy and implementation, technology and innovation, safety aspect for humans – both individuals and organizations, urban planning and vulnerable road users.
Also, Truck and Trailer with guides from "Girteka Logistics" were available for the conference delegates during the conference's time. The Trailer is designed together with the Lithuanian Traffic Police for traffic education for e.g. school children.
Live radio program at LRT followed up the conference. On 8th December, the biggest program on Saturday morning discussed the outcome of the conference featuring Vidmantas Pumputis from the Ministry of Transport and Communications and Jurate Fagerlund from Lithuanian-Swedish Academy. During the live show Vidmantas Pumputis stated that "Vision Zero for Sustainable Road Safety in the Baltic Sea Region" was a great success and the biggest and most successful conference in the road safety area that has ever been arranged in the Baltic States.
The implementation of "Vision Zero in Lithuania" will make use of Sweden's experience of their successful implementation of "Vision Zero" since 1997.
It's important to note, that organized by Lithuanian-Swedish Academy in collaboration with VGTU, the conference was also supported by Nordic Council of Ministers Office in Lithuania, Embassy of Sweden in Lithuania, Embassy of Norway in Lithuania, Lithuanian Ministry for Transport and Communication, Lithuanian Road Administration, Lithuanian Transport Safety Administration, Lithuanian Road and Transport Research Institute, Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket), Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI), Statens Vegvesen Norway and Norwegian Centre for Transport Research (TOI). Other partners and sponsors were "Girteka Logistics", "Ergo", "Scania" and "Biseris".