Safe System


Safe System

Assuming that people make mistakes, SS advocates a holistic approach based on a variety of multi-level measures to prevent deaths and serious injuries caused by these mistakes, which takes human vulnerability into account.

SS, introduced by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the International Transport Forum (IFT) in 2008, pursues the same goals as ‘Vision Zero’ defined in 1997 by Sweden, has the premise that nobody should be killed or seriously injured as a result of a road crashes and starts from the following principles:

People make mistakes that can lead to road crashes

The human body has a limited capacity to resist collisions

Safety is a shared responsibility of those who plan, build, manage and use both roads and vehicles

such as the community, policy makers, those responsible for road management, inspection, rescue, etc.

All elements of the system must be strengthened in combination

to enhance their effects and to ensure that road users are still protected if one of the elements fails

The Safe System approach is a key component of the United Nations (UN) 2020 resolution on road safety (derived from the Stockholm Declaration) and is a pillar of European efforts to improve road safety. The European Road Safety Policy Framework 2021-2030 states that “we need to implement the Safe System at EU level“.

SS must be a road system that

absorbs the physical limitations of the human being

is tolerant and self-explanatory

absorbs the driver’s mistakes

Main pillars of the STS approach

These pillars should be viewed in an integrated way, so that if one of them fails, another one or others will accommodate this failure to prevent greater damage.

Drivers will always make mistakes, and the infrastructure should help reduce these mistakes and minimise the severity of their consequences. This premise gives rise to the concept of a tolerant road, one that accommodates human error, that takes into account the vulnerability and physical limitations of the human body.

SS is well aware of the inevitability of human error, but is also aware that deaths and serious injuries as a result of a road crash should not be regarded as inevitable, and can be avoided.

Everyone has the right to use the roads without the risk of being involved in a road crash that could result in a serious or fatal injury; nobody should pay for a driving mistake with their life.

Main pillars of the safe road transport system approach
Main pillars of the safe road transport system approach
The SS approach is fundamentally different from the traditional approach, which placed the focus on the human factor and human behaviour. SS, without taking responsibility away from the driver, puts the focus on the other two players in the system: the vehicle and the infrastructure. In addition to efforts in education, campaigns to raise awareness and inspection, the good management and planning for safe, self-explanatory and tolerant transportation and infrastructure should be the overriding focus to achieve the vision of ‘zero’ road fatalities and serious injuries.