Case Study: McKenzie County, North Dakota

Vision Zero Adoption


Vision Zero Target

Not Stated



Community Description

  • McKenzie County is located in western North Dakota, serving as the largest county in the state by area.
  • McKenzie County hosts a significant portion of the Bakken Formation, making it a crucial area for oil transportation and logistics. This has led to a substantial increase in road and rail traffic, fundamentally shaping the county’s infrastructure and economic development.


  • McKenzie County had the worst road fatality rate in the U.S. in 2014. As an oil and gas production leader in North Dakota, McKenzie County attracts significant development as well as traffic associated with the energy industry. Together with two adjacent oil and gas-producing counties, they accounted for 42% of fatal and injury crashes involving trucks from 2015 to 2019.

Safe System Focus

  • Safe Roads
  • Seatbelt Use

  • Distracted Driving
  • Impaired Driving

Safe Street and Roads for All (SS4A) Implementation Grants

In the Vision Zero Action Plan, the City has a comprehensive list of Vision Zero projects and grants that will be used to fund each project. NDDOT developed a North Dakota Local Road Safety Program to guide each region in North Dakota to compete for available safety funds.

  • McKenzie County Safety Projects

Awarded in 2023

Lessons Learned

  • Getting started and embracing the Safe System approach does not necessarily mean developing a comprehensive plan. Starting with small projects focused on the priorities of your municipality can result in successful safety improvements.
  • McKenzie County started with a focus on systemic road infrastructure improvements to address the urgent concerns that made the municipality with the highest fatality rates in 2014.

A flyer with bold text reading "Everyone buckled" The image shows a seat belt buckle clicking into place

  • McKenzie County departments embraced Vision Zero and the Safe System approach following the North Dakota adoption of a Vision Zero initiative.
  • There is no official County Vision Zero or Safe System plan but County departments are engaged in sharing state Vision Zero efforts with their communities.

  • Emergency responders and maintenance staff have an important role in the Safe System approach, particularly in smaller counties. Their field experience and engagement with jurisdictions are necessary for a better understanding of safety concerns.

A brochure with images of a truck losing control while driving on a road illustrating driver ejection during a crash if not wearing a seatbelt

  • NDDOT plays a very important role in guiding McKenzie County in institutionalizing and sustaining the Safe System approach. The state works closely with County representatives to gather their input and address their concerns in the state Vision Zero Plan.

A poster of a safety guide promoting the using seat belts with illustrations of a male drver and a child in the rear seat wearing seatbelts

Additional Resources


External Links