A new approach to road safety that depends upon engineering and design principles–the”Safe System” approach–could lead to remarkable reductions in vehicle-related deaths and accidents if implemented from the U.S., according to a report from a consortium of experts convened by investigators at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Institute of Transportation Engineers.
The Safe System process engineers street systems so they are safe when used intuitively, the way people tend to use them. A Safe System reduces the possibilities for mistakes by drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists, and reduces the seriousness of crashes whenever they do occur. This approach–which might include the use of roundabouts, separated bike lanes, rumble strips, and other steps –has already been applied successfully in several other countries. In Sweden, in which the strategy was first executed, road deaths fell by about 67 percentage from 1990 to 2017.
The report’s authors advocate the Safe System strategy can improve street safety equity if it’s implemented in a way that shut the safety gap between well-served and historically underserved communities.
According to the National Safety Council, street deaths increased 8% this past year over the previous year although individuals were driving less, with an estimated 42,000 deaths in motor vehicle crashes and 4.8 million accidents. Since 2009, the traffic passing rate has remained relatively stable at roughly 11 deaths per 100,000 population) and crashes have shrunk since the top cause of death among young people. The rate of traffic deaths in the U.S. declined sharply between the 1960s and 1990, largely as a consequence of the automobile safety revolution.
The report,”Recommendations of the Safe System Consortium,” premiered on May 11. The Safe System Consortium, a group of more than two dozen leading street engineers, scientists, and public health professionals, convened earlier this year to reimagine street equity and safety in this nation, as a new presidential administration got penalized.
“With this report, we’re encouraging policymakers to adopt what would be a paradigm shift in the approach to road safety in the U.S., with the potential to dramatically reduce the vehicle-related injuries and deaths that we’ve been seeing on a daily basis,” says co-author Shannon Frattaroli, PhD, associate professor at the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School and director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy.
“We see the Safe System approach as a way of engineering safety into the road system–making safety natural and intuitive for those who use the roads, so that the way they’ll feel most comfortable driving or walking is the safest way,” says co-author Jeffrey Michael, EdD, a former senior official in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration who’s now a Distinguished Scholar at the Department of Public Health Policy and Management and the Leon S. Robertson Faculty Development Chair in Injury Prevention at the Bloomberg School.
The conventional strategy for road safety in the U.S., the authors note, puts much of the burden of accountability on the people driving, walking, or cycling on the roads. By contrast, the Safe System strategy is designed to put a greater burden on the design of streets and vehic