Safe System Approach to Road Safety

The Safe System Approach

The Safe System Approach to road safety is a holistic view which provides a framework to assess, guide and improve travel safety. At the core of this is the need for responsibility for reducing risk to be shared by road users and those who design, maintain and operate all parts of the road transport system.

This approach does not ignore risk taking behaviour, but acknowledges human fallibility and the need for greater allowances for human error. Planning and developing a safe system means looking beyond the standards and towards systematically planning and designing a sustainable and inherently safe road and transport system for all road users.

Four Elements of a Safe System

A safe system benefits all road users and has four essential elements:

Safe road use logo Safe Road Use (behaviour)
Safe roads and roadsides logo Safe Roads and Roadsides
safe speeds logo Safe Speeds
safe vehicles logos Safe Vehicles

Safe System Guiding Principles

Creating a safe system depends heavily on understanding and implementing these guiding principles:

  1. The limits of human performance: we all make mistakes and we all need to acknowledge the limits of our capabilities.
  2. The physical limits of human tolerance to violent forces: we are physically vulnerable when involved in a traffic crash.
  3. Shared responsibility: this means all of us take an individual and shared role in road safety.
  4. A forgiving road system: so that when crashes do happen, deaths can be avoided and injuries minimised.
  5. Increased use of public transport. 

More specifically, the WALGA RoadWise Program has developed the Safe System Guiding Principles for Local Government which are a set of principles designed to guide and support Local Governments in embracing the safe system approach to road safety.

The guiding principles were developed using a consensus process which involved an expert panel from the Local Government sector, together with local, national and international road safety professionals.

Essentially, the guiding principles provide direction and context with which to formulate strategies, plans and activities to improve road safety outcomes consistent with international best practice. The guiding principles build on past experience, work to add value to future activities and offer guidance to Local Governments in pursuit of innovation and effectiveness in the way they manage road safety.

For further information, please download an electronic copy of the Safe System Guiding Principles for Local Government booklet by visiting the Tools and Resources page or contact your local Road Safety Advisor.

Safe System Fact Sheets



Safe System News

How can your Local Government get involved?

For more information on the safe system approach and how Local Government can get involved, visit the Local Government involvement page.