Case Study: Massachusetts

Vision Zero Adoption

(on a state level)

Vision Zero Target

Varies by Location


6.9 Million

Boston Skyline showing traffic leading into downtown Boston, Massachusetts

Community Description

  • Massachusetts is situated in the northeastern United States within the New England region. The state is home to America’s oldest subway system, the Boston Subway, which is a key component of the region’s public transportation network. The state is covered by 10 regional metropolitan planning organizations and 3 additional non-metropolitan planning organizations. Statewide transportation is overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT).
  • Implemented speed management to realize safer speeds.
  • Taken an active role to effect change in vehicle design, features, and use.
  • Implemented new approaches to public education and awareness.


  • Approximately 80% of Massachusetts roadways are under local jurisdictions, and more than 60% of fatalities and serious injuries occur on locally owned roadways.
  • Riskier road user behaviors following the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in increased speeding and impaired driving and decreased seat belt use rate.

Safe System Focus

  • Safer Speeds
  • Safer Users
  • Safer Vehicles

  • Research and Technology
  • Seatbelt Use
  • Equity

Safe Street and Roads for All (SS4A) Implementation Grants

The state provides resources to support the Safe System approach in local municipalities. In addition, MassDOT partners with communities throughout the state to support projects and programs for the Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) federal grants.

Lessons Learned

  • Having regional and municipal associations, as well as the state Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) participating in the development of the Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) is key for communication with local jurisdictions.
  • Making stakeholders aware of their role, as well as supporting them through funding, helps to keep them engaged.
  • Stating main initiatives in the SHSP and developing a more detailed action plan, with specific roles for each stakeholder group, is helpful.
  • Constant coordination with different groups is needed to ensure that the action plan continues to represent all needs.

A vibrant mural painted by a local artist as part of a community safety campaign promoting seat belt use. The mural shows two cars with drivers and passengers wearing seat belts. To the right of the cars there are slogans in various languages emphasizing the importance of buckling up for safety .

  • Focusing on actions that can eliminate road fatalities and serious injuries can be more effective for public engagement than focusing on the structure and terminology of the Safe System approach.
  • Explaining the Safe System principles (e.g., death and serious injury are unacceptable) was found to be more successful than structuring group discussions based on Safe System elements (e.g., safe people).
  • Given the size of a state, holding virtual meetings can be an effective way to provide equal opportunity for participants from all regions.

A map of Massachusetts highlighting areas with high concentrations of fatal and serious injuries in underserved communities.

  • States play an important role in providing informational and funding resources to guide institutionalization of the Safe System approach in local municipalities. participants from all regions.

Additional Resources


External Links


External Video