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Policy Makers urged to adopt the Safe System Approach

2 October 2008

A new report - Towards Zero: Ambitious Road Safety Targets and the Safe System Approach was issued at an OECD/ITF High Level Road Safety Seminar in Paris held on 25/26 September:

  • To disseminate the results of recent road safety research of the Joint OECD/ITF Transport Research Centre, briefing key policy makers.
  • To engage high level policy makers in discussions on the safe system approach to road safety and explore key implementation issues.
  • To contribute to moving road safety policy to a new level of ambition in Member and non-member countries, and contribute to the broader debate on the global road safety crisis in preparation for the 2009 UN road safety inter-Ministerial meeting proposed in Moscow in 2009.
  • To identify areas where further research work would be most useful.

The report shows that ambitious targets are a powerful stimulus s to developing new approaches to preventing los s of life and serious injury on the roads. The report also promotes a ‘Safe System’ approach to casualty reduction.

According to Eric Howard, formerly General Manager of Road Safety for Victoriain Australia and Chairman of the group of government experts that prepared the new report, “all countries should aspire to the long term elimination of death and serious injuries on their roads and adopt a safe system approach – many of the means of achievement are available and will be energised by adopting that ambition.”

The adoption of a Safe System approach represents a fundamental shift in road safety policy as its ultimate goal is to prevent any road user being subject to impacts sufficient to cause fatal or serious injury when inevitable errors of judgement result in crashes. Although this is a very long term objective but it transforms the level of ambition; the safe system approach opens up new potential for improving performance by addressing all elements of the road transport system together, finding synergies for trauma reduction when safer road and vehicle design, speed limits and compliance with road rules are pursued in concert. The basic strategy of a Safe System approach is to ensure that in the event of a crash, the impact energies remain below the threshold likely to produce either death or serious injury. It sees the road user as the weakest link in the transport chain, unpredictable and capable of error, education and information efforts notwithstanding.

Further details are available here.