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Mobility & Transport - Road Safety

Road Safety Manangement


Overview | PDF


    Why do we need road safety management?

    The high cost of motorized mobility to society and public health

    Each year over 1 million people are killed and 50 million injured on roads around the world. Without new and effective action, deaths in low to middle-income countries are forecast to rise steeply. At the same time, progress has slowed in recent years in the better performing countries where investment in preventing and reducing serious health loss from road traffic injury is not commensurate with its high socio-economic cost. This cost has been estimated at around 2% of EU countries' gross domestic product - around Euro 180 billion and twice the EU's annual budget.

    Road traffic injury is largely preventable

    As highlighted in the World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention, fatal and long term crash injury is largely predictable, largely avoidable and a problem amenable to rational analysis and remedy. Research and experience in North America, Australasia and Europe has shown that very substantial reductions in road deaths and serious injuries have been achieved through the application of evidence-based measures against the background of increased motorization.

    Achieving results

    As the OECD has stated, setting ambitious targets is one thing; meeting them is another. The limits to improved road safety performance are shaped by a country's road safety management system which determines the results being sought and produces the interventions to achieve them.

    The road safety management system

    Safety is produced just like other goods and services and the production process is viewed as a management system with three levels: institutional management functions produce interventions, which in turn produce results[5]. Consideration of all elements of the road safety management system and the linkages between them becomes critical for any country seeking to identify and improve its current performance level [5][52]

    Seven institutional management functions are the foundation on which road safety management systems are built comprising results focus - the overarching function -, coordination, legislation, funding and resource allocation, promotion, monitoring and evaluation and research and development and knowledge transfer. These functions are delivered primarily by all the government agencies producing interventions, but they are also delivered in government partnerships with civil society and business entities to achieve the desired focus on results. Effective institutional management is a pre-requisite of successful results-focused intervention [5][52].

    These comprise system-wide strategies and programmes of interventions to address safety targets. Interventions cover the planning, design and operation of the road network, the entry and exit of vehicles, and users into the road network, and the recovery and rehabilitation of crash victims. They seek to manage exposure to the risk of crashes, prevent crashes, and reduce crash injury severity and the consequences of crash injury. They comprise safety designs, standards, and rules and well as a combination of activity to secure compliance with these such as information, publicity, enforcement and incentive.

    In good practice, road safety results are expressed as long term goals and interim quantitative targets. Targets specify the desired safety performance endorsed by governments at all levels, stakeholders and the community. To be credible, interim targets must be achievable with cost-effective interventions. Targets are usually set in terms of final outcomes. They can also include intermediate outcomes consistent with their achievement, and institutional output measures required to achieve the intermediate results.

    This web text is based on two recent major pieces of work by the World Bank, 2008 [5]and the OECD 2008[52]which set out the current state of the art in road safety management and its assessment and provide guidance to decision-makers and practitioners on steps to achieving ambitious results.