Introduction (or Reintroduction) to the Safe System Approach

The Safe System approach to road safety was adopted in principle by Australian Road and Transport Ministers through the Australian Transport Council in 2004. This policy principle now underpins Australian road safety strategies in all jurisdictions in the country. The Safe System approach and its predecessors, Vision Zero and Sustainable Safety, represent a substantial shift in how road safety problems and solutions are conceived. It requires researchers and practitioners to embrace the new scientific basis for analysis and actions. And in order to achieve safety results whilst maintaining a good level of community support, an injection of funding for refitting the road infrastructure is needed. Moreover, two of the primary levers of the Safe System are forgiving roads and roadsides and speed management set to levels needed for sustaining human health. These two aspects bring significant engineering and political challenges. The Safe System approach recognizes the inherent vulnerability and fallibility of human road users and invokes active and passive mitigation strategies that encourage system self-correction on a number of fronts. It requires that these characteristics be taken into account in the design and management of the road traffic system. A Safe System approach is the only way to achieve the vision of zero road fatalities and serious injuries, as this approach means that the road system is designed to expect and accommodate human error and correct for it. It does not just build infrastructure and put in place road rules with the assumption that road users will use the road in the way that the designers intended. The challenges of the Safe System are outlined in this paper. The ability to meet these challenges will be in part determined by the level of political and managerial commitment and leadership that will be required of governments to pursue ambitious road safety objectives.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: pp 51-58
  • Monograph Title: Roadside Safety Design and Devices: International Workshop, July 17, 2012, Milan, Italy
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01476931
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Mar 27 2013 12:19PM