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Mobility & Transport - Road Safety

Multi-sectoral co-ordination



Multi-sectoral co-ordination

Many government departments share responsibility for road safety - Transport, Health, Justice, Education, Employment, Finance - but unless special arrangements are put in place, achieving accountability, appropriate co-ordination and realizing the full potential of individual sectoral responsibilities is difficult [56]. The component problems of road traffic injury are diverse and meaningful institutional collaboration within Government needs to take place to adopt a system-wide strategy and achieve programme integration of the (sometimes competing) development, environment, accessibility, equity and safety objectives of national/regional governments. The rationale for coordination is always the country results focus [5].

The coordination function is addressed across four key dimensions and the lead agency plays the main management role [5] :

  • Horizontal coordination across central government
  • Vertical coordination from central to regional and local levels of government
  • Robust delivery partnerships between government, non government, community and business at the central, regional and local levels
  • Parliamentary relations at central, regional and local levels

Horizontal coordination

In good practice, horizontal coordination to achieve results is carried out across government by government [5]. High-level committees, working groups and bi-lateral partnerships are established to deliver coordination.

New Zealand's National Road Safety Committee (NSRC) Interministerial Committee for Road Safety (CISR) in France
Co-ordination: Chaired by the Chief Executive of the lead agency, it brings together the Chief Executives of seven key Government agencies concerned with road safety including local government.
Accountability: The terms of reference for the NRSC are set out in a Memorandum of Understanding. Road safety is clearly identified as core business for each of the partners in their documentation and in the adopted national road safety strategy giving potential for wider implementation of specific proven measures and increased resource.
Technical support: The NRSC has a National Road Safety Working Group made up of representatives of the NRSC organizations which sets the agenda and prepares papers for quarterly NRSC meetings as well as setting up working groups on specific issues.
Chaired by the Prime Minister, the coordinating committee brings together Ministers of the following Government Departments:
  • Transport
  • Interior
  • Defence
  • Justice
  • Health
  • Education
  • Research
  • Finance

The Committee meets twice a year and the Secretary is the Director of Road Safety and Traffic within the Ministry of Transport
The National Road Safety Council has a consultative role and comprises all stakeholders. Including representatives of local authorities

In best practice coordination, the national coordinating arrangements and structures are an extension of the accountable lead agency that manages them and are used as platforms for agreeing and reviewing national road safety targets; mobilizing resources; coordinating multi-sectoral partnerships in pursuit of agreed results and consulting with a wider group of stakeholders. Formal specification of the leadership and decision-making role of coordination bodies are set out in legislation and/or a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and in the safety strategy. A MoU is established with each participating member agency and used to encourage their delivery of concrete results; establish their accountability; and work collectively to achieve shared objectives. The arrangements are usually established, serviced, supported by the lead agency with a clearly defined secretariat and appropriate funding [5]. A best practice model is recommended by the World Bank and OECD [5][52].

Best practice coordination model recommended by the World Bank and the OECD [5][52]

© EU


The National Road Safety Coordination Council comprises a decision-making hierarchy and partnership for achieving road safety results through the development and implementation of a well-developed and coordinated road safety strategy and targets which have been agreed across Government. The hierarchy comprises three main levels:

The Road Safety Executive Committee comprises the Chief Executives (Secretaries/Assistant Ministers) of the key governmental stakeholders and reports to, supports and receives direction from Ministers. Its role is in communicating, coordinating and agreeing on top-level strategy between agencies on road safety issues. It monitors and reports progress to the Government through its Ministers, who sign off the national road safety strategy based on detailed plans for the outputs of the key stakeholders to achieve results. The Group meets approximately 4 times each year and the Chair is occupied by the lead agency for road safety

The Road Safety Managers' Working Group is the hub of the road safety co-ordination meeting monthly and comprises senior managers from Government departments with responsibilities for day to day road safety management. The Chair is occupied by the lead agency for road safety. With the lead agency as the key link, the group coordinates implementation of the road safety strategy, develops and implements programmes and interventions, reviews identified programmes, identifies research priorities, and promotes and monitors a coordinated country-wide programme of activities. The Group can set up Technical Working Groups to assist its activity.

The Road Safety Advisory Group is a consultative body comprising all the main road safety stakeholders, including the non-governmental sector, business and professional sector which meets quarterly and is chaired by the lead agency head of road safety.

The Coordination Secretariat is a dedicated, funded unit which sits within the road safety strategy unit of the safety department of the lead agency.

EU level Coordination

The EU has broad scope to act on road safety and the lead responsibility for the development of road safety strategy within the European Commission rests with DG Energy and Transport. In June 2003, the European Commission presented a European Road Safety Action Programme Halving the number of road accident victims in the European Union by 2010: A shared responsibility [10]. In addition the EU has a legislative role in accordance with Articles 71 and 95 of the EU Treaty, it funds road safety activity and is active in research and development and knowledge transfer [2]. EU level intervention ion road safety s coordinated between Member States through the High Level Group on Road Safety and the eSafety Forum. A European Road Safety Charter was established in 2004 to allow engage with a wide variety of road safety stakeholders [21].

The European Union has financial means which enable it, through targeted calls for proposals, to support initiatives to generate a higher sense of awareness among policymakers, professionals and the public at large about the main safety issues and the solutions required.

Vertical coordination

Over the last thirty years, there has been a trend in many high-income countries for less central governance with more local and regional decision-making in public policy. Some countries, such as Belgium and Germany have a long tradition in regional road safety activity. Others have decentralized over a period of time. In many countries therefore, major responsibility for road safety is shared also with regional, State, provincial government as well as local authorities and districts. In most countries, local highway authorities have responsibility for their own roads. National targets are being translated increasingly into regional and local targets. Decentralised responsibilities for road traffic policing are also present in some countries [5].

Strong coordination between central, regional and local government is therefore important to achieve national results. This is generally achieved through involving lower tiers of government in the coordination hierarchy or creating regional road safety coordination bodies, by use of funding mechanisms, contractual agreements, Codes of Good Safety Practice and performance monitoring [5].

In the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Sweden, responsibilities for road safety at regional/local level are defined in legislation which can facilitate interaction and contractual arrangements for positive road safety outcomes, while still leaving local authorities free to decide how to carry out that duty in all their local circumstances. For example, in the UK, the road safety functions of local highway authorities were set out in legislation in the 1970s. The UK also had a specific annual allocation in transport grants to local government for high risk site treatments or local safety schemes which required formal justification in road casualty reduction terms, as opposed to that required for minor works [36]. Budgets are now assigned against local transport plans. In the Netherlands, responsibilities for the financing and implementation of Sustainable Safety within the National Traffic and Transport Plan 2001-2020 are largely decentralized. The Decentralization Agreement in 1994 specified that each of the 19 regions should have a Provincial Safety Board (ROV), funded by central government (which has since been discontinued), in which all parties involved in traffic safety should co-ordinate their individual activities at provincial and local level [36].

Robust delivery partnerships between government, non-government, community and business at the central, regional and local levels

Good practice delivery involves the development of a range of close working partnerships to achieve national goals, often using direct funding mechanisms and other implementation tools. These include bi-lateral and multi-sectoral partnerships amongst the roads/transport, health, justice/police and transport sectors at national, regional and local levels. Many other organisations also work actively on road safety. Consultation and coordination with all is necessary to achieve societal ownership of the road safety problem and the championing of solutions.

Police and highway authorities

Partnerships between highway authorities and the police are particularly important for the efficient use of crash data systems and coordinated enforcement and publicity. Good practice countries set up highly effective partnerships between the police and roads authorities resulting in the coordination of high profile advertising and high visibility traffic policing leading to significant casualty reduction. Police and highway authorities work together to produce road safety action plans that promote local ownership of road safety, and the appropriate use of police and other resources across boundaries as well as calendars of coordinated activity through the year.

Multi-stakeholder local partnerships

The EU-funded DUMAS project and the OECD have highlighted many examples of how local road safety planning and local delivery partnerships can contribute sustained improvements in road safety [36][15][45].

Engaging the NGO sector

The scope of non-governmental organization road safety activity is broad, contributing to a variety of country institutional road safety management functions as well as carrying out interventions in support of national visions, targets and strategies. NGOs are most effective when they measure their success by their ability to influence road safety results [7].

Professional institutes such as those representing the road engineering or health professions can make an important contribution to road safety. These organizations are usually funded by professional membership subscriptions, which assure their independent voice. They can provide an authoritative voice in helping to stimulate awareness and action on road safety amongst their profession; helping to identify best practice as well as embarking on training activity and professional capacity development (e.g. the Institution of Highways and Transportation in the UK [33] or the Dutch highway engineering organization, CROW [12]. Such organizations have been in the forefront of advances in Europe in urban and rural safety management.

Safety organizations The leadership and advocacy of public health and safety professionals, pro-active in building effective coalitions, has often provided the stimulus for successful evidence-based interventions [56]. Aided by the scientific community, the medical profession, victims groups, user groups and the media, safety organizations can play a major role in road casualty reduction [65]. At European level, the Brussels-based European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) provides an international example of successful coalition building to achieve specific aims and professional support. Successful campaigns include an EU-wide road fatality reduction target and new vehicle safety standards legislation. Supported by a wide range of professional experts and organizations, ETSC aims to provide impartial advice on transport safety to European policymakers and to identify and promote measures with high safety potential and with due consideration to cost and public acceptability [25]. The National Society for Road Safety in Sweden is the umbrella organization for the non-governmental sector comprising a wide range of organizations [51]. It plays a key role in promoting Vision Zero.

Motoring, road user and consumer organizations User organizations typically mount strong national campaigns to improve mobility and safety. In recent years, together with safety organizations, motoring and consumer organizations have played a key role in improving car occupant safety standards. International Testing representing consumer and FIA/AIT representing motorists has played an important role in European New Car Assessment Programme [20] which was initiated by the British and Swedish governments.

Engaging with the business sector

The business sector shares responsibility for road safety and can make an important contribution to road safety when input which is in line with national road safety strategy goals. Industry shares responsibility for road injury prevention, in the design and use of its products and as an employer whose staff and transport services are often major road users. Vehicle manufacturers are a key provider of road safety and Volvo has recently announced that no one will be killed or seriously injured in or by a Volvo car by 2020.

What vehicle manufacturers can do:

  • Ensure that all motor vehicles meet safety standards set for high-income countries - regardless of where the vehicles are made, sold or used - including the provision of seat-belts and other basic safety equipment.
  • Begin manufacturing vehicles with safer vehicle fronts, so as to reduce injury to vulnerable road users.
  • Continue to improve vehicle safety by ongoing research and development.
  • Advertise and market vehicles responsibly by emphasizing safety.

World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention (2004)

The business sector often contributes financial support to road safety activity. For example, organizations funded by the insurance industry make a valuable contribution to road safety. Folksam Research, Sweden [11] and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety [34] in the United States play a key role in providing objective information about the crash performance of new car and other safety issues. Data collection managed by the Motor Traffic Insurers Bureau (VALT) [68], in Finland which investigates every fatal crash occurring nationally and carries out safety studies, feeds directly into national public information and policy. The insurance industry in Austria contributes a large share of the funding of the Austrian Road Safety Board [4].

In view of the fact that a large proportion of road traffic injuries are occupational in nature, companies can play a role in improving road safety through in-house safety policies and fleet policies. The Swedish Road Administration and the Swedish Work Authority have been particularly active in engaging employers in work-related road safety.

Examples of lead agency initiatives to engage the business sector in Sweden [5]

  • Helping to establish the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) which publishing ratings on the crash performance of new cars which has led to significant improvements in safer car design for car occupants
  • Using Euro NCAP safety ratings in performance monitoring in SRA travel policies to encourage demand for improvements in vehicle safety
  • Encouraging local car industry to fast track the fitment of alcohol interlocks, seat belt reminders, electronic stability control systems
  • Encouraging road haulage and taxi companies to adopt a range of safer practices e.g. the fitment of alcohol-lock devices to detect excess alcohol and the fitment of seat belt reminders by stipulating safety demands such as these in transport contracts.
  • Supporting the non-governmental organization National Society for Road Safety to develop performance ratings for the road safety activities of road haulage companies;
  • Engaging the business sector and other organizations through establishing the National Coalition for Road Safety. This consultative and coordinating body encourages traffic stakeholders to make far-reaching promises to improve road safety. The taxi and road haulage sectors, for example, made commitments regarding the increased use of seat belts, better observance of speed limits and driving without alcohol.

Parliamentary relations at central, regional and local levels

In European Union countries both the European Parliament and national Parliaments play a key role in road safety.

Well-informed all-party Parliamentary committees and groups on road safety have been associated with major developments in road safety policy in Australia and Europe [65][56]

  • Parliamentary Committees are appointed by the Parliament and have a formal remit within the Parliamentary process. These can be stand-alone road safety committees, or transport committees which give high priority to road safety. They usually comprise around 8-10 Parliamentarians from all parties. E.g. the Joint Standing Committee on Road Safety in Victoria, Australia and the Swedish Parliament's Transport Committee.
  • Parliamentary Groups are usually registered with Parliament, have to conform to certain rules, but they are not formally part of Parliament. They comprise Parliamentarians from all parties, road safety experts and representatives from a range of organizations. E.g. the British Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS)

These bodies have several functions:

  • Champion road safety within Parliament, the media and the community
  • Promote effective action to Government
  • Consider a broad spectrum of issues and views and seek expert and community opinion
  • Parliamentary Committees can conduct hearings and publish recommendations to which Governments must respond within a specific timescale
  • Legislate for road safety using Private Members' procedures and Parliamentary time
  • Approve casualty reduction targets.

Parliamentary initiatives on road safety [5]

Sweden's Parliamentary Transport Committee played a key role in enshrining the Vision Zero policy in legislation and introducing numerical fatality reduction targets to 2007 to encourage fast action.

In the Netherlands, the Standing Committee on Transport, Public Works and Water Management played a similar role in ensuring that Sustainable Safety and casualty reduction targets were covered by legislation.

The all-party British Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety played a national co-ordinating role in the introduction of compulsory front seat belt wearing in the early 1980s through Private Members' legislation.