Transport and Covid-19: responses and resources

Safe System Implementation Working Group

In 2008, ITF/OECD published a research report Towards Zero: Ambitious Road Safety Targets and the Safe System Approach, which was the first international effort in defining and promoting the adoption by all countries of a safe system approach as the main framework for road safety policies. This vision is based on ambitious targets and the aspiration to progressively eliminating all fatalities and seriously injured.

 A safe system approach is based on the underlying principles that:

  • Human beings can make mistakes that can lead to road crashes.
  • The human body by nature has a limited ability to sustain crash forces.
  • It is a shared responsibility between stakeholders (road users, road managers, vehicle manufacturers, etc.) to take appropriate actions to ensure that road crashes do not lead to serious or fatal injuries.

Sweden, the Netherlands and Australia were the precursors in the late 90s in the adoption of Safe System approach (also known as Vision Zero or Sustainable Safety). While there is reticence among some countries about some aspects of a Safe System --mainly related to the principle of establishing a vision zero or a “zero” target -- , several administrations, countries, international organisations have raised interest and sometimes adopted this principle since the publication of the 2008 report.

The safe system approach is at the core of the Plan of Action of the UN Decade of Action, which states that for all countries, whatever their level of developing, the guiding principles underlying the Plan for the Decade of Action are those included in the "safe system".


  • Review and document the processes for implementing a safe system, at different levels of a jurisdiction.
  • Assess the expected effect of a safe system on road safety performance.
  • Identify barriers for implementation.
  • Provide guidelines for policy makers in their efforts to implement a safe system.


UN road safety targets and the safe system

Safe system explained

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