New report makes case for integral role of road user behavior in traffic safety

Report envisions creating a transportation system that accommodates human mistakes 

December 20, 2021 / 2 minute read
road traffic safety

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) recently released a new report that makes the case for the integral role of road user behavior in traffic safety.

The report includes recommendations for how organizations and advocates can work together toward ending roadway deaths. This new report, developed for GHSA by Cambridge Systematics, comes ahead of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s anticipated release in January of a National Roadway Safety Strategy that will be rooted in the "Safe System approach."

GHSA says that the "Safe System approach" envisions eliminating fatal and serious crashes for all road users by creating a transportation system that accommodates human mistakes and keeps crash impacts on the human body at survivable levels. It is based on five key elements that, together, are designed to provide a systematic approach to traffic safety: safe road users, safe vehicles, safe speeds, safe roads, and post-crash care.

The GHSA  says the report—Putting the Pieces Together: Addressing the Role of Behavioral Safety in the Safe System Approach—debunks the misconception held by some in the traffic safety community that infrastructure alone can end road deaths and that behavioral safety plays no role in keeping road users safe. The report stresses that it will take a comprehensive solution—including infrastructure improvements, changes to road design, equitable enforcement of traffic laws, education and public outreach, and emergency response—to reduce traffic crashes, injuries and deaths. 

“The United States is heading in the wrong direction when it comes to traffic safety. Everything that should be decreasing is increasing, and vice versa. A public safety crisis of this magnitude requires a concerted, coordinated effort that uses every safety tool at our disposal,” GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins said in a statement. “The Safe System approach holds great promise in addressing the difficult task of ending roadway deaths, but only if we use all of its strategies. The traffic safety community needs to work together, not in silos, if we want to make progress on the road to zero traffic deaths.”

GHSA’s report features a new Behavioral Safety Safe System Framework to help states identify how to integrate Safe System elements into State Highway Safety Office (SHSO) programs and operations.

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SOURCE: Governors Highway Safety Association

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