Unsupported Browser

We've detected an older browser version that will not give you the best experience while using The Atlas. Please consider revisitng this site after downloading one of the alternatives below.

Achieving Vision Zero, Reducing Traffic Fatalities Using Smart Data and Analytics

Durham, NC, USA

At a Glance

The City of Durham has made significant progress towards its Vision Zero goal - eliminating all traffic fatalities and serious injuries - by quantifying the impact of the built environment on road safety using State of Place.

Problem Addressed

The City of Durham and Durham County staff collaboratively chose State of Place as a partner for the 2018 Innovate Durham cohort to address their “Vision Zero” challenge to eliminate all traffic fatalities and serious injuries. Innovate Durham is a 12-week partnership program that turns the City of Durham and Durham County into a lab to test new ideas, products or services. Through the program private sector partners get access to staff, data and facilities to assist with making Durham more efficient and encourage a culture of innovation at the City and County. State of Place was selected to partner with the City’s Transportation Department and Innovation Department to bring an innovative solution to their Vision Zero challenge.

Cities like Durham currently rely on intuition, anecdotal evidence, and/or case studies to inform their decision-making with respect to choosing what design interventions to plan, approve, and fund. Durham’s Vision Zero website notes that streets "must be designed to protect us when we err." Additionally, the Vision Zero program's stated purpose indicates that "designers and users of the roads share responsibility for the safety of all road users" and that Vision Zero is a "strategy for designing a safe transportation system."

The City recognized the need for a new way to tackle the Vision Zero challenge as they did not include holistic urban design interventions in their strategy to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries.

City of Durham used/is using State of Place to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

The City selected State of Place to analyze the role of urban design on road safety to provide an evidence-based rationale for a more holistic, design-centered approach to Vision Zero, as well as establish a data-driven framework by which to integrate urban design interventions. The Innovate Durham Vision Zero program goals involved: 1) quantifying the impact of the built environment on the probability of collisions, injuries, and fatalities; 2) identifying the most critical urban design dimensions impacting safety rates; and 3) providing high-level urban design recommendations to inform the City's Vision Zero strategy and street safety interventions.

State of Place quantified the empirical link between the State of Place Index (which measures walkability and place quality) and traffic safety. State of Place trained data collectors and Durham-based community members collected urban design data for nearly 300 built environment features across 362 traffic collision hotspots in the city. The final analysis demonstrated that a one-point increase of the State of Place Index reduced the odds of a collision by 12.3% on average. Additionally, seven key urban design dimensions all impacted the likelihood of a collision by as much as a 26.5% reduction in odds of traffic collisions for every one-point difference in the SoP Index. These urban design dimensions include: 1) parks and public spaces; 2) perceived crime safety; 3) pedestrian and bike amenities; 4) traffic safety; 5) density; 6) form; and 7) proximity to destinations. The City can use these findings in their Vision Zero Action Plan to prioritize urban design strategies most likely to reduce collisions through specific interventions and maximize the bang for the buck in their capital improvement budgets.


  1. Evidence-based quantifiable link between urban design quality and traffic collision outcomes impacting pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.
  2. Urban design quality benchmark and profile for 360+ traffic collision hotspots.
  3. Actionable data to model scenarios to maximize quality of place and road safety.

Something Unique

State of Place’s proprietary AI-driven and predictive analytics software quantifies the impact of nearly 300 micro-scale built environment features on walkability, return on investment, and now traffic safety to achieve Vision Zero through measurable data-driven urban design strategies.

Who Should Consider?

All Vision Zero cities as well as any city that prioritizes road safety to protect pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.

Related Local Gov Case Studies

Looking for more?