NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — North Dakota started Vision Zero five years ago.

According to a news release, Vision Zero is the state’s primary traffic safety initiative that works towards achieving zero motor vehicle deaths and serious injuries on the roads.

“The past five years have reinforced that personal responsibility is a key element in the success of Vision Zero. When we are all moving toward the same goal of zero fatalities by wearing a seat belt, driving distraction-free, and following all traffic safety laws, lives are saved,” said Governor Doug Burgum. “We’re deeply grateful to our state agencies and all stakeholders who have partnered with us to make our roads safer in North Dakota.”

“Widespread public education and outreach, high visibility enforcement, infrastructure, and road safety improvements have been a cornerstone to the success of Vision Zero,” said Ron Henke, the director of the North Dakota Department of Transportation. “These efforts have been effective thanks to the dedication of our many state and community partners who are committed to reaching the ultimate goal of zero.”

Some successes over the last five years include:

  • Four Vision Zero Regional Outreach Coordinators have been added to carry out strategies at the community level.
  • Vision Zero Priority Emphasis Area (PEA) teams comprised of expert stakeholders continued to gather to advance the Vision Zero Plan strategies.
  • Four Highway Safety Corridors have been implemented across the state. They have enhanced safety features and increased law enforcement presence.
  • Vehicle deaths have been on a steady decline across the state. North Dakota ended 2020 and 2021 with a total of 100 and 101 vehicle crash deaths respectively. These are the lowest fatality numbers in about 15 years.
  • The ND Sober Ride program was introduced in 2021, and thanks to funds from AAA, over 1,500 sober rides have been taken.
  • Vision Zero Schools have six schools in the state. It’s a peer-to-peer program that gives kids opportunities to become road safety advocates.
  • Deaths from alcohol-related crashes have decreased since 2018.

There is still work that needs to be done though. Things such as not wearing a seat belt, drinking and driving, speeding, and driving aggressively are all involved in vehicle crashes and/or deaths.

“Zero is the only acceptable number of fatalities when it comes to our family and friends,” said Colonel Brandon Solberg of the North Dakota Highway Patrol. “The highway patrol and other public safety partners continue to provide high-quality law enforcement services to make sure North Dakotans make it home to their loved ones. When everyone takes personal responsibility by buckling up and driving sober and distraction-free, avoidable fatality crashes will be eliminated.”

Car crash deaths happen every month, but over the last five years, more people have died in warmer months compared to colder months.

To learn more about traffic safety, visit Vision Zero’s website or join the conversation on the Vision Zero ND Facebook or Twitter page.