The early ‘adopters’ of the Safe System/Vision Zero approach to road safety were Sweden and Netherlands during the early part of the 1990s. This approach was initially developed from safe practices in use from both the air and rail transport sector. This approach has a long-term goal of a road network that is free of death and serious injury as the result of a crash.

Recent figures indicate that these early adopters, Sweden with 18 road deaths per million of population and Netherlands 28 per million are global leaders in casualty reduction.

The Safe System is based on the following factors:

  • People make mistakes/errors that lead to collisions
  • The human body has limitations to withstand the forces experienced as the result of a road collision; and
  • A requirement for a holistic approach/commitment from all stakeholders (vehicle manufacturers/engineers and road users) to reduce the severity, or totally eradicate collisions on our roads.

There are five foundations that support the Safe Systems approach they are listed below:

1. Safe road use – developing safe practices and changing attitudes and behaviours, complying with rules and the law when on or near the road by all road users.

2. Safe vehicles – keeping vehicles well maintained and further development of vehicle safety features that reduce harm to occupants and other road users in the event of a collision.

3. Safe speeds – road users adopt an appropriate speeds approach, adjusting speeds to take into account, environment, traffic and weather considerations

4. Safe roads and roadsides – roads should be self-explaining and forgiving to all road users in the event of collision.

5. Post-crash response – effective and proportionate response and medical care for road victims by emergency services. Lessons learnt from collisions are acted upon and victims receive post-crash support and rehabilitation.

Road Safety GB (RSGB) fully supports the Safe Systems approach to road safety. RSGB believes that this proven system creates an environment to reduce further death and injury on our roads by being incorporated into casualty reduction strategies.

These reductions can be achieved by creating better informed road users, inhabiting a road environment that is ‘forgiving’ and well maintained, driven by vehicles that have safety inbuilt from the outset, undertaking journeys at speeds appropriate to the road conditions.

All users should be safe in the knowledge that, if sadly, they are involved in a collision that the best post-crash response and care will be provided.

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