Vision Zero

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Vision Zero is Des Moines' plan to eliminate traffic fatalities and further enhance the safety of our transportation system for our growing community.

Every person in our community matters.


The Next Step for MOVE DSM

Adopted in 2018, Move DSM was the City's first Transportation Master Plan. This plan was followed by a complete streets policy update and a new CIP project development process to reflect the goals and objectives. Vision Zero is the next step in the process.

- "Des Moines' residents, regardless of how they get around, want transportation that is usable and safe for everyone."


What is Vision Zero?

Vision Zero starts with the ethical belief that everyone has the right to move safely in their communities, and that system designers and policymakers share the responsibility to ensure safe systems for travel. The Vision Zero approach recognizes that people will sometimes make mistakes, so the road system and related policies should be designed to ensure those inevitable mistakes do not result in severe injuries or fatalities.

Between the years 2016 and 2020, there were almost 28,000 crashes recorded. Of those crashes recorded, 76 individuals died, and 453 individuals sustained serious injuries from these crashes. On average, 105 individuals were killed or seriously injured each year. Many of these crashes could have been avoided. Below is data compiled from the City of Des Moines Traffic & Transportation Department listing the Top 10 causes of major crashes in 2020:

  • 1. Following too closely
  • 2. Running traffic signals
  • 3. Operating a vehicle in a reckless manner
  • 4. Lost control of a vehicle
  • 5. Failure to yield making a left turn
  • 6. Failure to yield from a stop sign
  • 7. Driving too fast for weather conditions
  • 8. Running stops signs
  • 9. Driver distraction
  • 10. Driving off the road

Strategies used in committing to Vision Zero

Vision Zero is an idea with an end goal, but it will take strategies and commitment to a plan to make Vision Zero a reality. The following strategies will be followed to make sure the City of Des Moines implements the necessary changes to ensure transportation is usable and safe for everyone.

Building and sustaining leadership, collaboration, and accountability - especially among a diverse group of stakeholders. This includes transportation professionals, members of the City Council, public health officials, community members, and police officials.
Collecting, analyzing, and using data - to understand trends and potential disproportionate impacts of traffic deaths on certain populations.
Prioritizing equity and community engagement.
Setting a timeline to achieve zero traffic deaths and serious injuries - which brings urgency and accountability, and ensures transparency on progress and challenges.


Vision Zero is not a tagline.

Vision Zero is not a slogan, tagline, or just an additional program. It is a fundamentally different way to approach traffic safety. Substantial changes to the outcomes will not be realized without substantial changes to policies and programming.
The City of Des Moines will develop an action plan tailored to our City by engaging the community, assessing crash data and reviewing existing policies, programs, and practices.